Biden Extends COVID-19 Vaccination Deadline for Private Military Contractors

Biden Extends COVID-19 Vaccination Deadline for Private Military Contractors

The White House announced that government contractors will have until January 2022 to comply with a mandatory coronavirus vaccine rule.

Two federal agencies, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, had passed mandatory vaccination rules that had a December 8, 2021 compliance deadline. According to the White House, the delay “will make it easier for employers to ensure their workforce is vaccinated, safe and healthy, and ensure that federal contractors implement their requirements on the same timeline as other employers in their industries.” 

Most private military contractors must comply with the OSHA vaccine rule. It applies to all companies with more than 100 employees. The CMMS rule applies to all healthcare facilities regardless of the number of employees.

Rules Contractors Must Follow

Adherence to rules, like vaccine mandates, is perhaps the biggest difference between mercenaries and contractors. In fact, for many years, U.S. rules essentially prohibited private military contractors.

After the Civil War, American society changed massively and rapidly. The end of slavery impacted life in many ways. For example, slavery’s end contributed to organized labor’s rise. In the new economic climate, owners, or employers, could no longer dictate things like wages and hours. 

Many employers did not embrace the new state of affairs, to say the least. Violent conflicts between labor and management were common. The 1886 Haymarket Square Riot in Chicago was one of the worst such incidents.

On May 4, three days after a wave of May Day protests had swept across Chicago, several hundred workers, or perhaps several thousand, gathered for a demonstration in support of an eight-hour workday. Several speakers took their turn at the podium as the crowd listened intently but peacefully.

Accounts of the end of the demonstration vary. Some say that British socialist Samuel Fielden whipped the crowd into a frenzy with a stirring address. Others say that bad weather had thinned the crowd and dampened the spirits of those who remained. Then, someone, no one knows who, threw a bomb. The explosion and chaos rattled police officers who were already on edge and had already instructed the crowd to disperse. 

The bomb killed one policeman and fatally wounded six others. Then, the shooting started. Four more people died and about a dozen others were injured.

In response, President Benjamin Harrison signed the Anti-Pinkerton Act in 1893. This law forbade the federal government from hiring “an employee of the Pinkerton Detective Agency, or similar agency.” The Pinkertons were a paramilitary group who usually worked for large employers and landowners.

In 1978, the General Accounting Office said it would no longer broadly interpret the Anti-Pinkerton Act as a bar on all private military contractors. Instead, the GAO green-lighted such arrangements, provided they followed certain rules.

Generally, private military contractors may not engage in any offensive combat operations. Furthermore, they must abide by all U.S. labor, civil, and other laws, regardless of where they operate.

Who are Private Military Contractors?

Because of these rules, and because of where these companies operate, there are basically three kinds of overseas military contractors in the field.

In active war zones, like Syria, private military contractors usually provide support security. They man checkpoints, accompany VIPs on inspection tours, escort supply convoys, and guard military or diplomatic installations. Their presence relieves regular service members of the burdens of such duties. Moreover, to many service members, these responsibilities are essentially desk duty or punishment duty. 

Perhaps most importantly, the fewer regular service members are engaged in security details, the more that can engage in offensive operations.

Mechanical support is another important area. Today’s high-tech weapons require a great deal of sophisticated maintenance. Private military contractors have the required skill level. In many cases, they worked at the company which designed and/or built the equipment they maintain.

No one wants American troops or contractors to remain in harm’s way forever. So, contractors pass on their knowledge to local technicians who can step into their mechanical support shoes.

Finally, there is general logistical support. Especially in the Global War on Terror, armies are in constant danger and constantly on the move. They need all the help they can get in terms of thighs like medical attention, morale boosting, cooking, cleaning, and a host of other everyday matters.

Injury Compensation Available

All these diverse activities have several things in common. Risk of injury is one of these things. All paramilitary tasks are inherently hazardous. They are even more hazardous when people are shooting at you and the nearest large hospital might be on another continent. As a result, overseas military contractor injuries, like falls or hearing loss, are usually much worse than they are in stateside locations.

The Defense Base Act compensation system takes care of all reasonably necessary medical bills in these situations. This category includes:

  • Transportation Expenses: As mentioned, many on-base medical facilities are little more than first-aid stations. Seriously ill or injured people need immediate medevac to a larger facility. A brief helicopter ride could cost tens of thousands of dollars.
  • Emergency Care: The average stateside hospital stay is about $3,000 per day. Foreign hospital stays could be even more expensive. Contractors are ineligible for Veterans Administration benefits and services. So, even if they go to military hospitals, they must pay out of pocket.
  • Follow-Up Care: Injuries like broken bones and head injuries are normally permanent, at least to an extent. At a minimum, these victims usually require ongoing monitoring to ensure that their conditions do not deteriorate.
  • Physical Therapy: Everyone involved in contractor injuries wants the injured victim to get back to work as soon as possible. Therefore, physical therapists are a critical part of the process. In addition to strengthening muscles, physical therapists also strengthen minds. So, they give injured victims all the necessary tools.

The DBA provides no-fault benefits. So, even if the victim was partially responsible, or mostly responsible for the injury, full medical benefits are available. Usually, the insurance company pays these costs directly. Victims are not financially responsible for any unpaid amounts.

For more information about other DBA benefits, contact Barnett, Lerner, Karsen, Frankel & Castro, P.A.