As a Russo-Ukrainian peace agreement inches closer to reality, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says his country immediately needs to retake territory it lost to the invading Russians earlier in the war.
After a meeting with Zelenskyy, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) said the “next three to six weeks are crucial” for both sides. However, American President Joe Biden may be unwilling to write another big check. The Americans have already sent more than $8 billion in military aid to Ukraine, and officials are hesitant to provide the Ukrainians with advanced weapons.
Many lawmakers believe that only a seismic shift in the fighting would prompt Biden to step up military assistance. “If the Russians continue to push, to commit what amounts to genocide, forcibly removing children and killing people who don’t agree to their rule, that ups the ante and creates a different situation,” remarked Rep. Mike Waltz (R-FL).
In related news, two American volunteers were recently killed in eastern Ukraine. “We are in touch with the families and providing all possible consular assistance,” a State Department spokesperson remarked.
Like many modern global conflicts, this one dates back to the Cold War era, or more specifically, the early Soviet era.
Not many people know that when the Communists wretched power away from the Czars, the Romanovs and their supporters did not go quietly into that good night. Instead, a long civil war followed, between the Reds and the Whites. Several Western countries, including the United States, openly supported the Whites.
The Ukrainians, like many other non-Russian people, hoped to take advantage of the situation and throw off their Russian overlords. In fact, the independent Ukrainian People’s Republic existed between 1917 and 1922. But the dream soon died, and the Communists absorbed Ukraine into the new USSR.
Nationalism persisted in Ukraine until the early 1930s, when the Holodomor (terror famine) killed between four and five million people. When someone asked him about the famine’s excessive death toll, Soviet strongman Joseph Stalin famously responded “A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic.” Whether you are Russian or Ukrainian, you don’t forget something like a man-made famine that starves millions of people to death.
The USSR is a distant memory now, but Russian aggression against Ukraine remains. The two sides first came to blows in 2014. In 2022, Russia launched a full-scale invasion. After some initial Russian successes, Ukrainian counterattacks pushed the Russians back to the eastern border of the country, where they remain firmly entrenched.
Contractors in Hot Spots
No one in Washington wants to see the Russian bear gobble up one of its neighbors. However, no one wants to poke the Russian bear with a stick. Contractors are an ideal solution in situations like this one.
As mentioned, most people have long memories. They remember who did what, and who did not do what, in a certain situation. Contractors give nations like the United States a chance to choose sides without an overt declaration. Commanders can “encourage” contractors to fight in certain campaigns and then legitimately say the government has no dog in that hunt. Most politicians would rather control things behind the scene than stick their necks out for one side or another.
Contractors are also good in strong nationalist countries like Ukraine. Kyiv can accept foreign help without being beholden to a foreign country. Furthermore, leaders like Zelenskyy can legitimately say that American combat troops aren’t present on Ukrainian soil.
On a related note, contractors have a lower intimidation factor than regular servicemembers. People who would shudder to see American soldiers in their streets may not look twice at private military contractors.
Furthermore, contractors are flexible. If the Ukrainians need reinforcements in a specific area, they need them now, not in six months. After one phone call, experienced contractors are boots on the ground in only a few hours. Then, when their deployment ends, the government’s financial commitment ends as well.
Contractors in foreign countries provide immediate help without a long term downside. They also risk serious injury while they are overseas.
Trauma injuries are obviously a risk, as the two Americans killed recently in Ukraine clearly demonstrate. Usually, contractors serve in support roles. They always pull guard duty. However, these jobs are not safe. Today’s armies can strike hard and strike fast almost anywhere. So, there’s no such thing as a front line and a rear area anymore.
Many contractors do not make it to combat duty in one piece. Training and other injuries often cause more casualties than enemy action. Falls are the primary threat in these situations. These injuries are especially severe if the victim has a pre-existing medical condition.
Long term occupational diseases plague many soldiers as well. Hearing loss is a good example. Combat airfields are a lot noisier than commercial airports, and tanks are a lot louder than Toyotas. Like many occupational diseases, hearing loss is treatable if doctors catch it early. A delayed diagnosis could mean permanent hearing loss.
Also like other occupational diseases, hearing loss is not just a physical problem. It causes emotional problems as well. People who cannot hear well often withdraw from friends and family.
In both situations, the average hospital bill exceeds $100,000. Most contractors do not have health insurance, and most families cannot possibly afford to pay these expenses out of pocket.
Injury Compensation Available
When private military contractors are injured overseas, the Defense Base Act pays all reasonably necessary medical expenses. This category usually includes:
- Transportation: Typically, injured contractors receive immediate treatment at field hospitals. Then, a jet airlifts them to a larger medical facility in another country. In other words, injured contractors have already racked up thousands of dollars in medical bills before their doctors examine them.
- Hospitalization: Most trauma injuries and occupational diseases require multiple surgical procedures. For example, if Rachel breaks several bones in her legs, doctors must normally use metal parts to reconstruct her bones. Then, doctors must extract these metal parts once her bones heal.
- Physical Therapy: The hospital release date is not the end of medical treatment. In most cases, it’s just the beginning. Once again, broken bones are a good example. These victims often must go through months of PT to regain lost function. Some victims must also undergo occupational therapy to learn new trades.
- Prescription Drugs: Most people do not realize how expensive new prescription drugs are, since they’re only responsible for copays or generic alternatives are available. Drug companies usually spend over a billion dollars to bring a new medicine to market. So, to recoup their costs and make a nice profit, they charge a lot of money for these drugs.
Defense Base Act insurance companies often challenge these expenses, claiming they were not reasonably necessary. If the insurance company drags its feet regarding payment, attorneys usually connect victims with doctors who charge nothing upfront for their services.
For more information about DBA benefits, including lost wage replacement, contact Barnett, Lerner, Karsen, Fankel & Castro, P.A.