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Houston Defense Base Act Blog

Preventing back injuries from here to there

Geography is unimportant to an injured back. Your muscles don't know if they were strained, over-stretched or torn on a construction site in Houston or a military base in Turkey, South Korea or Germany. The results are the same: workplace injuries that can often mean medical treatments, rehabilitation and sometimes even surgery.

The most common cause of work-related back injuries is overexertion that often happens during manual lifting. A recent news article shares advice for employers and workers alike on how to reduce the risks of back injuries.

Active shooter? There's an app for that

Few situations in military or civilian life are more dangerous or harrowing than being in the presence of an active shooter. An active shooter, Homeland Security says, "is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area."

Unfortunately, active shooters are found far too often in both combat and civilian life. But a team of civilian employees at the Aviation Center of Excellence at Fort Rucker, Alabama, have developed an application that will help military members and civilians alike to survive, the Army said recently in an announcement.

Blackwater's Prince is on the rise again

He is a former Navy SEAL. He is also the brother of Betsy DeVos, head of the Department of Education. But Erik Prince might be best known as founder of Blackwater, a controversial civilian military contractor company.

Prince is on the rebound from a contentious past, however, and has emerged as a key figure in an internal Trump administration debate on how best to bolster U.S. fortunes in the Afghanistan war. According to recent news reports, Prince is tasked with coming up with proposals to send civilian contractors into Afghanistan rather than more American troops.

Disability benefits for PTSD awarded under Longshore Act

A panel of three judges recently ruled that a man could receive PTSD benefits, even if he wasn't in physical harm himself.

The man was driving a forklift in 2011 when he veered to avoid being struck by a truck. While he was veering, he accidentally struck and killed one of his coworkers.

Fighting workplace injuries here and overseas

Owners, stockholders, CEOs, managers are often at odds with workers over compensation, promotions and more. One thing everyone can agree on is that injuries in the workplace hurt everyone. For those in management, the issue is clear: workplace injuries drive profits down.

For those who do labor, the issue is even clearer: on-the-job injuries are not only painful, but they can mean missed time on the job, loss of income, a need for medical care and sometimes much more.

Flying, fighting, winning as an Air Force civilian contractor

In some important ways, civilian contractors create little U.S. islands in foreign nations. Military bases are like islands replete with many of the comforts of home, but with a mission to maintain a U.S. presence overseas so that the homeland remains free and secure.

One of the many important groups of people who helps create, protect and manage those islands: the Air Force Civilian Service. They are the men and women who work in 80 locations across the nation and around the globe in support of the Air Force. They can be found here in Texas as well as in Germany, Guam, Turkey, Portugal, South Korea and Italy, among other places.

GAO stresses importance of civilian contractors to U.S. military

When the totals of active, reserve, civilian employees and contractors are added up, the various branches of the U.S. military has more than 2 million people as part of the worldwide effort to keep the nation safe and secure. Part of the Defense Department's job is to know what skill sets those people possess and what skill sets the DOD needs.

The General Accountability Office (GAO) says the Defense Department is striving to learn more about those skill sets, but needs to do more so that it can effectively "address skill gaps in critical workforces." As we have reported many times in our Houston Defense Base Act blog, experts are agreed that in the coming days and years, the Pentagon will increasingly rely on civilian contractors to fill critical posts in areas such as security, education, construction, intelligence, engineering and much more on and in proximity to bases around the world.

Defense Base Act is not guaranteed in writing

If you've served as a civilian contractor in an active conflict zone, you know that nothing comes easy. The "do it the hard way" philosophy often insidiously finds its way back home for contractors who fall victim to injury or illness overseas. Does it ever get any easier?

The Defense Base Act, an extension of the Longshore Act, is meant to grant federal workers' compensation benefits to contractors who suffer an injury or illness outside of the United States. However, just because the law is on the books doesn't mean contractors are automatically covered.

Shifting the risks to civilian contractors

Though a 10 percent increase in military spending has been proposed by the Trump administration, it is not yet clear if Congress will go along with the idea. While the budget's future is unclear, the future of civilian contractors is crystalline, according to a recent article in Government Executive, a publication devoted to news of government-related business.

As we have reported previously here in our Houston Defense Base Act blog, the federal government has in recent years shifted many security responsibilities formerly held by the military to civilian contractors. In that way, an American public that grew weary of battlefield losses in Iraq and Afghanistan perceives less risk today to our sailors, soldiers and Marines.

Civilian contractor shares memories of loss

Like most people around Richard Marshall's age, he has seen a lot and done a lot. The 66-year-old is a veteran of the Viet Nam war who later spent years working as a civilian contractor in Iraq.

Marshall first went to Iraq after the U.S. invasion, driving fuel trucks to U.S. forces. He remembers on early April day in 2004 with particular clarity. It began with an early morning wake-up in the camp where he was housed with other contractors in a tent.