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Losey reports: "After being wounded by a roadside bomb in Iraq in 2004, Army counterintelligence specialist Mike Helms endured a bureaucratic nightmare trying to get treatment for traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder and other injuries. He wrote or called numerous congressmen, Defense Department executives, newspapers (including Federal Times, a sister publication to Army Times), even then-President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. According to an inspector general's report obtained by Federal Times, the Army then retaliated against Helms for blowing the whistle on the poor treatment he received."

After suffering a traumatic brain injury in Iraq in 2004, Mike Helms blew the whistle on the poor treatment he received. (photo: Mike Helms/Army Times)
After suffering a traumatic brain injury in Iraq in 2004, Mike Helms blew the whistle on the poor treatment he received. (photo: Mike Helms/Army Times)



Inspector General: Army Retaliated Against Whistle-Blower

By Stephen Losey, Army Times

10 December 11

 

fter being wounded by a roadside bomb in Iraq in 2004, Army counterintelligence specialist Mike Helms endured a bureaucratic nightmare trying to get treatment for traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder and other injuries.

He wrote or called numerous congressmen, Defense Department executives, newspapers (including Federal Times, a sister publication to Army Times`), even then-President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.

According to an inspector general's report obtained by Federal Times, the Army then retaliated against Helms for blowing the whistle on the poor treatment he received.

In 2008, his superiors suspended his access to classified information, recommended his security clearance be revoked, and suspended him indefinitely without pay. In November 2009, the Army fired him.

Army officials "reprised against Mr. Helms when recommending that his security clearance be revoked. We concluded that the agency did not establish by clear and convincing evidence a firm belief that it would have taken the same action absent Mr. Helms' disclosures," wrote Donald Horstman, deputy IG for administrative investigations, in the introduction of the IG report. The report was completed in October 2010, but the IG's office has refused to release it. Helms provided Federal Times with a copy.

The Army claims it removed Helms' clearance because he breached security by setting up an illegal computer server and put pornography on government computers, according to the IG report.

The IG report found no evidence that Helms was connected to the pornography and that the Army's investigation into his alleged wrongdoing was deeply flawed.

Helms' former superiors at the 902nd Military Intelligence Group declined to comment when reached by phone, and they referred Federal Times to the public affairs office at the Army Intelligence and Security Command, or INSCOM. The public affairs office did not respond to multiple inquiries.

Helms' battle took a devastating psychological, financial and professional toll on him. Since speaking out against the shoddy medical treatment he received, Helms has lost his job, racked up at least $200,000 in legal fees, had his security clearance put in limbo, and has been unable to find a new job.

"The IG investigation showed I did nothing wrong," Helms said. "But I'm the one sitting here without anything."

His case shows that even while whistle-blowers have new protections and resources, they can sometimes pay a heavy price that can take many years to overcome. The Project on Government Oversight, a whistle-blower advocacy organization, said the Army's actions against Helms show that whistle-blower protections need to be strengthened.

"I think [Helms] exposed a pretty glaring gap between policy and reality in terms of how the DoD treats war-injured civilian employees," said Nick Schwellenbach, POGO's director of investigations. "This is an egregious case of retaliation, especially given what Mike Helms went through, and what he exposed."

Inferior Care and Treatment

The Army deployed Helms in December 2003 to Iraq's dangerous Sunni Triangle area , where he helped military units collect intelligence on insurgent operations.

"We were there to fill the HUMINT [human intelligence] void, to provide the commanders actionable intelligence on where the bad guys might be, and identify if there was any foreign terrorism threat … as fast as possible," Helms said in a 2008 interview. "When needed, I'd go out and support teams on security. I'd be on the main gun [of a Humvee] nine times out of 10, because we didn't have enough bodies."

Helms, who had served more than five years in the Army before becoming a civilian employee in 2002, said there was a severe lack of trained military personnel at the time. He said he had no choice but to help man a gun and assist during convoys.

"When the commander said ‘Go,' I said, ‘Where to?' " Helms said. "I worked for him. There was no, ‘let's be heroes' concept. At no time did we go out to play war. It was serious business for us."

But while helping a convoy transport newly deployed soldiers to their stations in June 2004, Helms' Humvee struck a roadside bomb. The explosion riddled his left arm and right hand with shrapnel, blew out his eardrums, broke his tailbone, and left him with no feeling below his waist for a week.

The IG report said that as a federal counterintelligence specialist, Helms was entitled to free care under the DoD Military Health Services System for his battlefield injuries. DoD rules say "the scope of care provided [to such employees] shall be equivalent to that received by active duty military personnel."

But that's not what happened.

As an Army civilian, Helms received a far inferior level of care and treatment after his injuries than his military counterparts, the IG said. And he exposed to the media and Congress an embarrassing pattern of incompetence, neglect and indifference in the way the Army handled his care, the IG said.

Two weeks after the bombing, Helms was medically evacuated to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington. But Walter Reed at first refused to treat Helms because of a coding error that incorrectly identified him as a contract worker. He said the error was never straightened out. Helms only got into Walter Reed after the also-injured military driver of his bombed Humvee and the driver's wife fought for him.

After a month, Helms said the driver was discharged and Helms had to leave Walter Reed. He returned to his home station at Fort Knox, Ky., but said the Ireland Army Community Hospital there likewise refused to see him because he was a civilian.

Helms filed a workers' compensation claim but said the Labor Department provided him no help in navigating the complicated system. Several of his treatments at local hospitals were denied, and he had to argue his way out of several bills from his treatments at Ireland Army Community Hospital and other civilian medical facilities - some as high as $15,000. Those bills would have been taken care of by Tricare if he had been a service member.

Helms wrote to numerous lawmakers and Pentagon officials seeking help. The Senate Armed Services Committee in 2005 asked INSCOM, the Army Deputy Chief of Staff and the Office of the Secretary of Defense for a "short-fused" briefing on Helms' case, the IG said. And the House Armed Services Committee in 2007 spoke to Helms and other combat-injured civilians behind closed doors, and in 2008 released a report detailing serious shortcomings in the government's treatment of its wounded civilian employees.

The IG said Helms' disclosures "brought increased and arguably unwelcome scrutiny" to his unit, the 902nd Military Intelligence Group." The report quoted one unnamed official who said Helms' press interviews generated frustration within the department.

"It was very trying, because now you're getting higher headquarters coming down to you saying, ‘Why aren't you taking care of this guy?' " the unnamed official said.

Another unnamed official said that "there were times when the name of Mike Helms invoked a head-back, rolling of the eyes at just the mention of his name."

The IG report said that Helms' complaints qualified as protected whistle-blower disclosures and that the Army's treatment of him during and after an investigation into an allegedly improper computer server amounted to reprisal.

Helms' persistence brought Washington's attention to the plight of war-wounded civilians, and gradually, the system changed. In September 2007, former Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England issued a memo that said civilian employees wounded in a war zone are to receive the same treatment as uniformed service members.

In late 2009, Labor set up an office in Cleveland to help feds injured in combat zones with their claims.

And last month, the House approved a bill overhauling federal workers' compensation that seeks to streamline the claims process for workers who are seriously injured in a combat zone. A comparable bill has not yet been introduced in the Senate.

A Flawed Investigation Against Helms

In April 2008, the Army launched an investigation into Helms. Specifically, investigators probed whether Helms violated Army rules by creating a "rogue server" at his Fort Knox field office that was improperly connected to a classified computer network and that used malicious, unlicensed software.

Helms created the server, called Athena, three years before as a way to store operational files for his field office. Four to five employees at the office, including Helms, had access to the server. Helms' superiors were aware of the Athena server, the IG report said. Helms said he briefed incoming commanders over the next few years about how it worked.

But in April 2008 - three years after Athena's launch, and several months after Helms' interviews with The Washington Post and the House Armed Services Committee - the server was shut down and an investigation was launched.

Helms' superiors were aware of the server because Helms said he briefed them about it and one supervisor even asked Helms to test the system out, the IG report said. In investigating charges that Helms' Athena server was outside of protocol, Army officials never interviewed Helms' commanders or superiors who Helms said were aware of the server.

Helms believes the length of time between Athena's creation and when his superiors began to investigate the server - three years - shows the server was never a real problem.

"How was [Athena] never an issue for three years?" Helms said. "They launched the investigation as a means to come after me. It was a way for them to say, ‘We can get rid of him.' "

The IG report said an important question to answer for the Army when deciding whether to revoke Helms' clearance was whether classified material was compromised because of the Athena server, but that was never investigated.

Investigators also found pornographic computer files on Athena's hard drives and broadened the inquiry to determine whether Helms put it there. They concluded he did. An Army official said in a November 2008 memo that Helms admitted putting pornography on government computers and the official recommended that Helm's clearance be revoked, the IG report said. But Helms not only never admitted to the pornography charge, he denied it, the IG report said - which meant the recommendation to revoke his security clearance was based in part on a materially misstated fact.

Other aspects of the Army's investigation into the pornography allegations against Helms were also flawed and incomplete, the IG found. Investigating officers failed to interview any field office personnel about the pornography charge or conduct a forensic investigation, the IG report said. A subsequent Defense Criminal Investigative Service analysis of the Athena hard drives could not disprove Helms' claims that he was not responsible for the porn. DCIS found that anybody with access to the Athena server could have placed the pornography on it, yet the Army investigators only focused on Helms. DCIS could only confirm that Helms tried to delete two pornographic files.

Helms Fights Back

Helms' top secret security clearance was never officially revoked, but because his access to classified information is still suspended, it might as well be. He said he has had a few job offers from the private sector, but they all fell through because the status of his security clearance is uncertain.

Helms went to the Merit Systems Protection Board to contest his firing in December 2009, and in November 2010 he sued in the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. He sought three years of lost back pay, plus nearly $900,000 in compensatory and punitive damages for his suffering and lost job opportunities. But the case dragged on, and he racked up about $200,000 in legal bills.

"They slow-rolled me for years," said Helms, who is 35 and lives in Radcliff, Ky.

To cover his costs, he borrowed $60,000 from his parents, and took out a $10,000 loan from his Thrift Savings Plan - the most the plan would allow.

On Aug. 8, the cash-strapped Helms and the Army settled the MSPB case for two years' back pay, or roughly $180,000. Helms' firing was revoked and replaced with a four-day suspension for failing to follow instructions. Helms is now on paid administrative leave while the Army adjudicates his security clearance once and for all. The adjudication process is still underway.

As part of the settlement, Helms agreed to resign "for personal reasons" and never again apply for another job at INSCOM. His resignation will take effect six months after his clearance is approved or, if his clearance is revoked, six months after he exhausts his final appeal.

Helms wanted the Army to guarantee medical treatment after he leaves as part of his settlement, but he said that was quickly taken off the table.

"I believe the Army should be responsible for that, because they were the ones who deployed me," Helms said. "I don't think that's too much to ask for."

Four months after the settlement, Helms hasn't yet gotten any back pay, and his security clearance isn't adjudicated yet. He's also still struggling to get the medical treatment he needs for his TBI and PTSD.

"I'm still having to fight the damn Army," Helms said.

 

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+14 # fredboy 2011-12-10 14:38
Always have, always will.
 
 
-49 # Archie1954 2011-12-10 15:00
Mr. losey's name should be Mr. Loser as he has lost all the way along. I consider anyone stupid enough to get involved in illegal attacks and invasions of foreign countries to be losers whether they just followed orders or not. The Nazi soldiers just followed orders also and couldn't use that excuse later when it came time to pay the piper!
 
 
+24 # Fight the Reich 2011-12-10 19:31
TO ARCHIE1954: Well, it's pretty obvious that you are too chicken to name Mr. Helms so you blame the author; But trying to further disguise your attack by naming Nazi soldiers instead of OUR SOLDIERS who you are actually intentionally attacking, ....is way down in the cowards basement. And although it was purely accidental on your part (put a monkey on a keyboard.....), your comparison to Nazi soldiers is in fact correct; They were brainwashed by propaganda and fought for an evil empire just as our dear Soldiers are mostly-unwittin gly doing; But FYI, the vast majority of Nazi soldiers didn't need any excuse because following orders is indeed a just legal and moral defense; But Nazi commanders who commanded heinous criminal acts did indeed have to face the music, but it was heinous criminal acts that many commanders and a few soldiers were tried and most convicted of, not 'just following orders'; And frankly I think a number of military and government 'commanders' of the geeeduhhbya bush administration should be tried by The Hague for war crimes every bit as bad as Nazi commanders which they all were whether it was under the Third Reich or the present M.I.C. / Amairka Inc. Fourth Reich; Although I'd personally like to see the bush criminals tried in Nuremberg.
 
 
+20 # Ken Hall 2011-12-10 20:50
Fight: "Although I'd personally like to see the bush criminals tried in Nuremberg." That would be a powerfully symbolic place to try US war criminals in. Thank you for the great idea! I hope to see this in my lifetime, Bushco on trial in Nuremburg!
 
 
+21 # Ken Hall 2011-12-10 20:44
Archie: Establishment propaganda preys upon the idealism of youth, whatever country and time you live in. It is the old men who create the wars and the young who fight them. While I regret the preemptive and phony wars the US has involved itself in, I, having been young once myself and capable of all sorts of silly and callow mistakes, can't find it in my heart to blame the young soldiers who go off to war thinking they are doing their patriotic duty. They learn soon enough what war is about. There are many veterans who are now members of the anti-war movement and out there on the front lines of the OWS encampments.
 
 
+10 # Rita Walpole Ague 2011-12-11 05:40
Truth is, we are all losers in today's world and U.S. of (greed and power) A.(ddiction). The Occupy Wall Streeters hit the evil on the head when they remind us all that WE ARE THE 99%!

More truth: No matter how much the 1% enslaves us with their carefully concocted economic 'disaster' (not one bit a disaster for the villainaires, who have made unprecedented profits while we the sheeple get thrown our of jobs, out on the streets, out of food), we must NEVER avoid jobless poverty by enlisting. The MIC is gleeful at the thought of no way they will lose in the '12 election - either electing another puppet whore like George W., or 4 more years of OhBombAh. Either way, war, war, war for oil, oil, oil and profit, profit, profit (then 'f' the stupid cannon fodder when they come home injured/jobless ) is a winner for the villainiares and their police state minions.

Lesson(s) to be learned: NEVER
1. enlist
2. vote Republican
3. knee jerk vote for Dem., 'cause too many are now anything but owned by the villainiares.

Time to recognize the coup d'etat that's now taken us away from liberty and justice for all - a power grab a Pres. named Ike warned us was comin' as he left politics behind him. Lots and lots to do, including determined and oh so brave, peaceful fightin' like Wisconsinites and Occupy Wall Streeters, to.....UNDO THE COUP!!!
 
 
+5 # grindermonkey 2011-12-11 07:56
4. Trust a banker.
 
 
+47 # Gurka 2011-12-10 15:04
What an utterly despicable way to treat a service man.
"The Project on Government Oversight, a whistle-blower advocacy organization, said the Army's actions against Helms show that whistle-blower protections need to be strengthened." Is that all? Protections strengthened? Should the people responsible for acting against all rules of decency not be held accountable? Maybe not, and the reason is the same old, same old: soldiers are just cannon fodder. They have even dropped the remnants of dead soldiers in landfills - the utter contempt of human beings, I'd say.
Mr. Helms' story should be printed and handed out in all places where the military comes to recruit new personnel. Let the young people learn a bit about what is in store for them if they enroll.
 
 
-14 # NOMINAE 2011-12-10 21:00
@ Gurka

And almost every commentator in this entire string.

While this man's case does indeed have its own merits, he is NOT a "service man". He is a civilian contractor for the military, hired by the Army, just like employees of Blackwater. See above where the Army "fires him". The Army does not "fire" enlisted service men.

What a gigantic chasm obviously exists between reading and reading comprehension.
 
 
+1 # Gurka 2011-12-12 10:44
Quoting NOMINAE:
@ Gurka

And almost every commentator in this entire string.

While this man's case does indeed have its own merits, he is NOT a "service man". He is a civilian contractor for the military, hired by the Army, just like employees of Blackwater. See above where the Army "fires him". The Army does not "fire" enlisted service men.

What a gigantic chasm obviously exists between reading and reading comprehension.
You are right, I am sorry. I did not see that he was a civilian contractor. But nevertheless he was treated like shit, be it by his private employer - who BTW ought to kept under surveillance of the US army. Privately employed persons do in fact work for the army of the US.
And as you of course know there is an abundance of cases where military personnel have been treated like shit by the US military. Yess, Sir, there are lots of personal stories which ought to be made known to young persons being courted by the them.
 
 
+39 # pgobrien 2011-12-10 15:14
This is not new. People have been treated this way by the services for generations. When their usefulness is gone, the cost of taking care of them is treated like money thrown away. It's outrageous and disgraceful. We American should insist that our services treat people better than this when they serve our country.
 
 
+30 # Vardoz 2011-12-10 16:23
This is the corruption everyone around the world is fed up with.
 
 
+31 # jwb110 2011-12-10 16:28
I think the idea of an all volunteer army has been a great undoing for America. Had the Bush2/IRAQ war required the draft to raise an army we never would have gone there is the first place. One of the reasons for an out of control military industrial complex is a volunteer only army. Re-instate the draft and all of this broo-ha-ha and blackmail will stop. Once everyone's sons and daughters are facing the bullet the American public might not sit by like so many sheep while the Nation are led down the road to perdition
If foreign countries want foreign troops then they can hire them from BlackWater and pay for them out of their pockets and not mine.
 
 
+14 # unclewags 2011-12-10 19:58
Thank you, Thank you, jwb 1 10. It is encouraging to know that I am no longer the only voice crying out in the wilderness. For a number of years now, I have been trying to persuade fellow members of a local Peace ActionCoalition that we need to reinstate the military draft. They have disagreed because they are against the military establishment and war. I am vehemently opposed to the machinations of the profiteering MIC. And I favor the military draft for the same reasons as you implied, Moms, dads, spouses and other loved ones would NOT tolerate our MICs, including the "Bushies", lobbying the people's Congress to accept warfare using their "drafted" loved ones for cannon fodder. Its' time to have OWS "for the Draft". It would achieve "fairness" with "human resources" (as corporations refer to persons) taking a turn in military service while others have a turn getting a civilian job during "human resource" shortages. Absolutely no doubt about it, the MIC loves the all volunteer military (the economically enslaved mercenary personnel identured to the MIC). The abolishment of the draft during the Vietnam era sucessfully silenced the tens of thousands of voices of families and loved ones who had been slaughterd, physically maimed and psychologically scared;all in vain as Defense Secretary McNamara lamented in his memoirs.
I'm a Korean War who weeps over the unpunished criminal activities of the military industrial complex.
 
 
+7 # frdboesl 2011-12-11 00:26
Thank You!! How many tours can one do before you are killed or injured? Or your mind is out of sync with the non war world?
I have been saying for many years, the end of the endless no mission wars, is to reinstate the draft.
 
 
+9 # Kootenay Coyote 2011-12-10 16:29
99%er: Can’t fight for Justice in the USA
 
 
+31 # John Locke 2011-12-10 16:45
The best approach is to educate our youth, not to enlist or fight in any wars that are sponsored by the US... our government has NEVER stood up for the rights of injured service men or women, remember Agent Orange and the decades the US Government fought taking care of these vets, that is our history, and its about time our youth understood this ...
 
 
+15 # in deo veritas 2011-12-10 19:44
You are 100% right. In addition to agent orange our soldiers were used as human guinea pigs during the early days of the atomic age by having them advance toward a nuclear detonation site to determine the effects on them. Thousands died from various types of cancer. I was told by a neighbor that he was offered $50K to sign a waiver to release the government from claims for his exposure to agent orange. We are still fighting to get Gulf War Syndrome compensation from the early 1990's. Cannon fodder indeed. This country pays lip service to our heroes but nothing more. If it wasn't for the many civilian groups that work so hard to help our wounded,handica pped, and indigent veterans it would be a much greater national disgrace. God Bless them for what they do every day.
 
 
+18 # Carolyn 2011-12-10 18:28
It has become clear to me now that our enlisted men are society's victims.
With thermonuclear bombs, mankind can now destroy the planet. We have outgrown war.
 
 
+13 # unclewags 2011-12-10 20:11
Quoting Carolyn:
It has become clear to me now that our enlisted men are society's victims.
With thermonuclear bombs, mankind can now destroy the planet. We have outgrown war.

Our military men and women are clearly expendable "human resources" nothing more that utilitarian to the greed and profiteering of the Military Industrial Complex which the great WWII General, Dwight D. Eisenhower had warned our then great nation's people of when he left the Oval Office as a genuine patriotic citizen. The "repugnicants" of this day are faux patriots; who label genuine patriots as "liberals and lefties". It would be safe to bet that President Eisenhower would describe these contemporary Republicans as shameful and unpatriotic minions of the MIC and Wall Street.
 
 
+17 # in deo veritas 2011-12-10 19:21
We never learn. It is hard for me to fathom how we continue to glorify and celebrate the worst waste of lives in our history-the Civil War. The hard truth is that so many who survived suffered bneing crippled, blinded, were disfigured or unable to work any more. The medical "care" they received was barbaric No guarantees of a job when they returned, whole or not. The vultures then as today (bankers, etc.) would cheerfully foreclose on farms, businesses, and homes despite the heroic service of the soldier. Unfortunately this indecent disregard for those serving a government run by cowards and draft-dodgers continues to this very day. The American people should be outraged and demand reform, but because of the propaganda dumped on us on a daily basis it is unlikely that anything will be demanded by the sheeple. By the grace of God I served 25 years and retired without experiencing what Mr. Helms has had to deal with. I would not do it again nor would I encourage anyone else to enlist. There are many better ways to serve and protect what is left of our democracy.
 
 
+15 # in deo veritas 2011-12-10 19:27
I remember a popular antiwar slogan from the Vietnam era-"suppose they gave a war and nobody came". Suppose nobody enlisted and the warmonger neocons had to do their own fighting? Would there be any more wars-fat freakin' chance. I wonder how many of our best and bravest enlisted so their college would be paid for. I wonder how many have not lived to see that happen. God help America......
 
 
+8 # Progressive Patriot 2011-12-10 20:53
They'd put a draft in place and take the poorest first. Anyone with money could bribe their way out of serving.

That's what Dubyah did.

Actually, during the Civil War, it was possible to pay someone to take your place in the draft.
 
 
+1 # historywriter 2011-12-11 15:01
Sure, if you had money. No ordinary farmer or logger paid anyone to serve for him.
 
 
+7 # Progressive Patriot 2011-12-10 20:51
The treatment of our exploited soldiers by our government is despicable ... but it's not unusual. Throughout most of our history it has been a struggle for veterans to get the benefits that they were promised.
 
 
+4 # noitall 2011-12-10 20:58
This treatment seems to be SOP. And still there are a herd of veterans that support any mis-guided venture that they are pointed at. Such is the soldiers life. I hope they use some disgression when they're turned loose on their own people.
 
 
+9 # MissMarple 2011-12-10 21:33
That is what happens when you trust George W Bush.
 
 
+9 # sandyboy 2011-12-11 07:04
Nominae, it's YOU who can't read!!!! Go back to the article and you'll see that the man had problems with treatment because he was INCORRECTLY flagged as a contract worker!!! He was a civilian ARMY EMPLOYEE, and it's stated that those are entitled to the SAME med care as soldiers - hell, he was even manning the gun on Humvee missions!
 
 
+9 # stonecutter 2011-12-11 08:08
To Gurka: "utterly despicable" captures it completely.

To Nominae: your parsing what constitutes a "service man" is risible, especially your effort to lecture the rest of us on the difference between contractors and soldiers.

The DOD regulations state Mr. Helms deserved the same medical care as a combat-wounded soldier. End of story. The guy was maimed on a Humvee, sent out there by a military commander. His employment status, while it may be germane elsewhere in his case, is irrelevant and immaterial to his combat wounds, and the responsibility, moral and legal, of the army to treat him as they would any soldier.

The last time I looked, moral/ethical considerations, let alone standards, however much ignored by our own leaders, were vital to our self-image as the unique place on this planet where the Constitution and Bill of Rights were drawn up, to our self-image as "Leader of the Free World", despite our recent barbaric forays into pre-emptive war, torture, rendition, suspension of Habeas Corpus and other depraved manifestations of John Woo's and Dick Cheney's twisted "1% Doctrine".

Since we're a nation of amnesiacs, our outrage over these actions has evaporated into the thin air of politics, as we're bludgeoned by the GOP Traveling Clown Circus and Reality Show called "primaries".

A story like this reminds us "doing the right thing" is bedrock American ethics, and Mr. Helms got screwed by the Army he served.
 
 
-3 # NOMINAE 2011-12-11 19:57
@ stonecutter

GREAT rebuttal to a premise that was never put forward. No one has denied that this man "got screwed" by the Army (WoW, how unique and unusual is that ?). No one denies that this man handled the main gun on the Humvee.

But, yes .... ask ANY active duty "service man" whether he thinks there is a difference between an "enlisted man" and a civilian contractor/empl oyee, and you will get an earful. You will find that enlisted personnel find such a distinction neither "risible", nor a result of "parsing".

To them, it is a *very* important distinction. I am a member of a military family with unbroken service going back to WWI.

Almost every commentator in this thread is responding to the article with comments pertaining to "enlisted men", not to civilian employees/contr actors.

To us, this is not, as you seem to think, a mere matter of armchair semantics - it is a concrete distinction.

Check it out with any "service man/woman".

Mike Helms himself thoroughly understands this difference, since he was enlisted Army before he got out in 2002.
 
 
0 # stonecutter 2011-12-16 04:45
@ Nominae
Congrats on your military pedigree. I served 4 years in the USAF during the height of the Cold War in West Berlin, and risked my life every day I was there, no bull. I didn't face combat, but my compassion for Mr. Helms is palpable. Frankly, I'm not interested in your rebuttal about the difference in status between soldiers and civilian employees--I notice in your rebuttal that you went from initially referring to Mr. Helms in your first comment as a "contractor" to "contractor/emp loyee", but there is a marked difference between those two designations--, only in the fact that DOD says he should have received the same level of care as a returning wounded soldier. He got sandbagged, likely, as Daisy commented, due to parsing COST. Once again, the dollar trumps human life, doing what's right, fulfilling our obligation to these guys. Blackwater has it's own medical coverage; this guy worked for the Army as an EMPLOYEE.
As I said before, end of story.
 
 
+6 # sandyboy 2011-12-11 11:01
Thanks, Stonecutter, you nailed it exactly! We can all love America while deploring the stuff its government does in the name of its people. It should outrage all the gung-ho faux patriots of the GOP that when people return from these wrong-headed adventures they get no help or compassion. Should, but won't. No profit to be had helping the afflicted. And they're gearing up to do it all over again in Iran.
 
 
+2 # Daisy 2011-12-11 16:53
Interesting that Helms was a civilian and not a soldier at the time. Seems that the problem is funding. Congress and the American people want cheap wars and this is one way to cut expenses--don't fund care/rehab to civilians. Also am not so sure that regular soldiers get superior treatment as it's all about keeping costs down.
 

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