South African Contractors in Iraq
and Afghanistan
Foreign Workers for U.S. Are Casualties
Twice Over

T Christian Miller
Pro Publica

June 19, 2009

South African Daniel Brink,
who was working as a guard
in Iraq when his SUV was hit by
roadside bombs meets with
DynCorp Officials who then
Throw him under the bus

Survivor Struggles  

Even when foreigners know their rights, the system can be daunting.

Daniel Brink, a South African, was working as a security guard in Iraq when his SUV was hit
by a string of roadside bombs in December 2005.

Brink, a former police officer, lost his right leg and most of his fingers. He was flown to
London, where surgeons used some of his toes to replace some of his lost fingers.

CNA, the insurance carrier for Brink's employer, paid for that treatment.
But when he returned to Johannesburg, South Africa, disputes arose over the cost of
follow-up surgeries, psychological counseling, an electric wheelchair and related
renovations to Brink's house. CNA took months to pay for the surgeries and rejected the
other bills, Brink said. His credit rating plunged, his wheelchair was repossessed, and he
lost his home to foreclosure.

In May 2007, Brink flew to Chicago, believing he had an appointment to meet with his CNA
claims adjuster. When he arrived, Brink said, he was told nobody would meet with him.
Security guards escorted him out of CNA headquarters.

Two years later, Brink is pressing his claim in the Labor Department's dispute-resolution
system. He said his outstanding medical bills total about $150,000.

CNA said that it "does not have any direct contact with workers," but otherwise declined to
comment, saying that individual cases are confidential.

Brink, 39, said scores of South Africans who worked in Iraq are in similar situations. He is
now in law school and hopes to represent injured contract workers from his country

"It's not that I want something out of the ordinary," Brink said. "I just want what I'm entitled
to, nothing more, nothing less."

Broad Agreement that Worker's Comp Program for
War Zone Workers Needs Fixing
By T Christian Miller
                                                                                                   Daniel Brink, a
South                                                                                                                            African,
applied to
                                                                                                   Chicago-based                                                                                                                                      insurer CNA for
his                                                                                                                               medical benefits
but                                                                                                                             said CNA
declined                                                                                                                                 some benefits
owed                                                                                                                             to him.
                                                                                                   (Francine Orr/
                                                                                                   Los Angeles Times)

Congressional hearings generally follow a script. Lawmakers publicly vent their outrage,
administration officials offer plausible defenses, and the outcome is inconclusive. But last
week's airing of complaints about the government's system for taking care of civilian
workers injured or killed while on the job in Iraq and Afghanistan was notable for its

Republicans and Democrats, Obama administration officials, private insurance companies
and injured contractors all agreed that there are serious flaws in the Defense Base Act, [1]
a 70-year-old law that requires federal contractors to purchase special workers'
compensation insurance for employees working in war zones.

The Labor Department, which oversees the system, acknowledged that it had failed to
consistently provide for the needs of the injured. Insurance carriers complained that tight
deadlines and paperwork requirements were outmoded for the complexities of a war zone.
Injured civilians recounted long, painful battles to get prosthetic legs, prescription
eyeglasses and other basic medical needs.

"We are trying to meet a complex, 21st century challenge with a program from World War
II," Seth Harris [2], the Labor Department's deputy secretary, told a panel of the House
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform [3] on Thursday. "It simply isn't up to the
Open Letter to
Vetted International

Vetted International managed to get my
MRSA treatment from CNA after I battled
with Donna Sprags. They have on
several occasions paid for my
medication. Before John Maclean, Brian
Sjostedt and Tyler K attended to my file, I
almost died of infections. This company
came to South Africa and negotiated with
all my medical suppliers. Most of all they
settled my debts.
The funny thing of all is that just as it
seems that all is well, Donna closed my
file with them. Because of the file closure,
I cannot get medication from the hospital.
My medical providers wants nothing to do
with Donna Sprags because of all her
empty payment promises.
Vetted appointed a medical professional
to take care of my day to day needs.
They furthermore looked at how they
were going to get my life back to as
normal as possible.
My situation is back to where I was before
Vetted International intervened. Why
would Donna Sprags close my file with
Vetted if they where the only people who
kept me off her back. I must admit that I'm
not the easiest person in life to deal with.
I can be downright rude and unpleasant.
It did not matter what type of curve ball I
threw at this company, they managed to
sort every problem out. I want to publicly
apologize to them for all the hard times i
gave them and can publicly state that
Vetted was the best thing that could have
happened to the South African
I need this company to take of me. Three
cheers for Vetted. Keep up the good

Forever grateful
Daniel Brink  

Daniel Brink with his wife Stellie
on R&R not long before
Daniels injuries
PTSD Suicide DBA Claim
ALJ Awards Widow

SA man embroiled in
bizarre US court case

Johannesburg -
A South African contractor working
in Afghanistan has been arrested
and spirited away across the world
under a controversial United
States law.  Sean Brehm, 44,
arrived in the US on Tuesday and
is being held near ­Washington.  
Brehm, who ran a VIP ­protection
company in Cape Town an
d who
had been working in Afghanistan
since October last year, was
arrested at the ­Kandahar Air
Force Base last month after
allegedly stabbing and severely
wounding a British contractor in a

See Also
DoD Memorandum:
Class Deviation Additional
Contractor Requirements and
Responsibilities relating to alleged
crimes by or against Contractor
Personnel in Iraq or Afghanistan