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24 Jun, 2009 09:01

Insurance companies deny compensation to Iraq contractors

Injured private military contractors, who worked in Iraq and Afghanistan, say insurance companies are refusing to cover medical treatment for their injuries.

Some in the US Congress are furious that insurance giant AIG – recently saved from collapse by a massive White House bailout – is refusing to help those who have lost limbs and even their eyesight.

John Woodson finally received a new leg and is now testifying in front of congress. In Iraq, he was a civilian contractor and was severely injured, and lost his leg and vision.

Unfortunately, the real battle for him and so many others like him is at home, where insurance companies such as AIG constantly deny their claims to receive medical care for their injuries.

“They did not follow through on anything they had promised, or the contracts that we had signed. They deny, they will not get back in touch with you, they will not go through with what they are supposed to,” said John Woodson.

One congressman expressed his disapproval of the situation.

“They get our money, that’s number one. Then they are supposed to take care of you, and if they don’t, they don’t. Then you suffer, and they get rich. Boy, what a game. What a game!” Congressman Elijah E. Cummings said.

Forty-year-old contractor Tin Newman is all too familiar with these games. He went overseas to train Iraqi police, only for an IED to blow off his leg. It took over a year for the insurance companies to give him a new one.

Newman said: “The insurance companies have kind of hijacked the system. All it does is re-victimize us. It’s bad enough getting blown up or shot, or whatever happens to these guys…”

“You feel hurt. You have given, physically, mentally, and now my body and I have given everything. And then you fight harder here than you did there,” John Woodson also noted.

However, AIG didn’t have to fight much when it came to getting billions of bailout dollars from the federal government, all while these men were fighting for a pair of new eyeglasses or prosthetic legs.

Both Newman and Woodson served their country in Iraq and, because they were severely injured, have found themselves in a battle for their lives, not against insurgents in a war zone, but against large corporations, government policies, and inefficient bureaucracies at home.

In the US it appears that the insurance companies always come out on top.

“The way this thing is structured, they cannot lose, which makes it almost criminal,” said Congressman Cummings.

Then what is to be done with these criminals?

“Can we force them to do it? Well I suppose we could write the laws a little tougher to maybe put them in jail,” said Congressman Dennis Kucinich.

“There are no teeth of any kind of punishment that the US Government has put upon AIG. I have lost everything. I have lost the ability to do the hobbies, the fun things that I had before in life,” John Woodson added.

With all the losses these contractors have suffered, they hope that one day they will no longer have to face a tougher battle in their own country than they did abroad.