From the LA Times…
HOUSTON — On a cold, overcast day here Friday, nine families came
together in a hushed hotel ballroom to receive one of the nation’s most
prestigious civilian honors.
Executives in dark blue suits shifted uncomfortably as an Army major
general in battle fatigues awarded posthumous Defense of Freedom medals
to the families’ loved ones, all contractors killed while working in
But this was no public recognition of sacrifice. The event was held in
secret, with guards to keep out the media. The Army even refused to
release the names of those it was honoring. The nation’s gratitude was
delivered behind closed doors.
The Houston medal ceremony, jointly sponsored by KBR and the Department
of Defense, underscored the meshing of the American military with
contractors. KBR holds the single largest contract in Iraq, with 50,000
workers supplying food, fuel and mail to the military.The contractors work alongside soldiers, helping rebuild the country
and providing private security guards to diplomats and senior U.S.
All told, the Pentagon has awarded 119 contractors the Defense of
Freedom medal, which is considered the civilian equivalent of a Purple
Heart. Of those, 95 have gone to KBR employees, according to KBR
The officials declined to provide names or access to the event, citing
privacy concerns. The Times was given access by family members who
received the award.
The article states that “more than 750 contractors have been killed in Iraq [..] the figures
include Americans, Iraqis and other nationalities employed under U.S.
government contracts.” It also relates the problems wounded contractors and those with PTSD have encountered in getting help.
I’m not without sympathy for these people who the article stated were often working class folk. More and more we are relying on the support of these individuals to fight these wars yet they do hold a nebulous status. Ought they receive medals? I don’t know but if they are to receive them why the secrecy??? Appears the government would rather not throw the doors open to the myriad of issues involved.