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Workers' Comp Not Properly Equipped To Handle Wartime Injuries Of Civilians

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Brent Adams
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According to a report released in April by the House Armed Services Committee, there has not been enough action taken to help the civilian employees wounded during deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Civilian employees are not able to qualify for the military’s disability system and injuries aren’t covered by their usual federal health insurance, but by the Department of Labor’s Office of Worker’s Compensation Programs. According to the House committee, the Labor Department’s office is not properly equipped for handling the influx of wounded civilian employees who are returning from war zones.

According to the report, the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs is not adjudicating combat wounds any differently than it would typical personal injuries in the workplace and claims officers are untrained for recognizing combat injuries such as traumatic brain injury (TBI) or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The committee was also critical of the paper-based claims processing system, referring to it as “antiquated.” It was found that there is little support for federal employees who are trying to prove that they had been wounded at war.

There are currently approximately 4,500 federal civilians who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are policies and procedures that have been put in place by the Department of Defense (DOD), the largest employer of civilians to war zones, to provide medical care for civilians who have been wounded and the majority receive adequate care in theater at Military Treatment Facilities. However, according to the report, the majority of the policies appear to not be well understood or disseminated. It also noted that the Military Treatment Facilities staff has the responsibility to submit treatment information to the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs.

Category: General

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