How Iraq Contractors Deal With Trauma

Filch returned home last October but had to quit his job driving trucks in Texas because he constantly thought there were roadside bombs and snipers lining the highway. He said he has entertained thoughts of suicide and has tried to get himself admitted to a psychiatric hospital, but neither his insurance nor workman's comp will pay for the treatment, a plight many contractors suffering psychic wounds face.

"These guys have nowhere to go," said Jana Crowder, a Tennessee homemaker whose Web site www.americancontractorsiniraq.com has become virtually the only resource where contractors can find advice about getting help.

"They've been abandoned by their companies, by the government and by the insurance companies," she said.

Crowder said she routinely gets phone calls from contractors who say they are considering suicide and she must try to talk them out of it and help find places they can get treatment.

Kids Without Limbs, Bodies in Street

"I've got a guy begging to get hospitalized. He committed himself, but when the hospital realized he didn't have any insurance they sent him home after 24 hours," she said. "Another guy told me he's planning on 'going postal' and killing his co-workers just so someone will realize he's lost it and give him some help."

Alece Davis, a 30-year-old police officer who went to train Iraqi police in April 2006, said the constant stress of living in a war zone led her to become increasingly stressed and ultimately set off a series of seizures.

"Just being over there was traumatic and stressful. Period. Seeing friends not come home, watching IEDs explode in front of my eyes, seeing kids without limbs or kids walking by dead bodies in street. It got to me."

Davis said she left Iraq and through her company, DynCorp, received treatment first in Germany and then followed up with her when she arrived at home.

Unlike most companies, DynCorp has its own experts in place to screen contractors for post-traumatic stress and recommend they seek treatment. But she said she had met with resistance from her insurance company, which has been reluctant to fully fund her treatment.

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