Thousands of Americans have come home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who are veterans in all but name, writes T. Christian Miller—and the benefits afforded veterans. The military's unprecedented reliance on civilian contractors has left thousands injured and disabled with no safety net or public gratitude. Whether they were motivated by money, patriotism, or both, they faced many of the same dangers as American troops, and suffered many of the same injuries.
For contractors, "the normal support that you would get if you were injured in the line of duty as a police officer or if you were injured in the military just doesn't exist," one psychologist tells ProPublica, which takes takes an in-depth look at the case of a KBR truck driver left severely disabled after an RPG attack in Iraq. His family, left to struggle with private insurance companies for his treatment, say the 60-year-old's sacrifice has never been recognized either by his country or his company.