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Civilian contractors and PTSD

Regular readers of our Houston Defense Base Act blog know that we have repeatedly reported on the increasing use of civilian contractors in hostile areas by the U.S. government. While that shift might help make headlines about our foreign presence less discomforting for politicians, there is no doubt that the human toll is much the same.

Contractors and soldiers alike suffer consequences for keeping America safe, including experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress when they come back home.

A couple of years ago, the Rand Corporation published a report that shed light on the PTSD rate experienced by civilian contractors working in hostile areas. The study titled "Out of the Shadows: The Health and Well-Being of Contractors Working in Conflict Environments" showed that contractors suffer symptoms of post-traumatic stress at even higher rates than military members.

About one quarter of all contractors surveyed reported PTSD symptoms, while service members report at a rate of between 11 percent and 20 percent.

According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, PTSD symptoms can include:

  • Reliving experiences (nightmares, flashbacks, etc.)
  • Avoiding situations reminiscent of traumatic events
  • Negativity in beliefs and feelings
  • Hyperarousal (always looking for dangerous situations, being on edge, etc.)

Some who have read the Rand report wonder if contractors really do have a higher rate of PTSD than veterans. After all, more than three-quarters of civilian contractors are vets, so it stands to reason that many of them had post-traumatic stress symptoms before being hired for contract work overseas.

Those who have worked as contractors and suffer from PTSD will have questions about their future health care and whether the Defense Base Act ensures that they will be covered.

If you have any questions about the Defense Base Act and how this can affect you or a loved one, please contact the Barnes Law Firm at 713-652-4002 for a confidential consultation.

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