Returning War Contractors Face Second Battle, Against AIG

Whatever your role in the U.S. war effort, if you were injured overseas, at least you'd be covered back home, right?

The impact sent Boiles headfirst into the top of the cab. The next day, his back was throbbing with jolts of pain. On March 4, Boiles was sent home. After an X-ray, a doctor told him he had severe back injuries. (He also says that he has been told he has PTSD, but he seems loath to accept that diagnosis.)

"I had a big ol' bulging disk, my neck hurt, my back was killin' me, my left leg still hurts," he said. A doctor recommended surgery to repair the disk. He would get that surgery, but only 14 months later, after a federal administrative judge ordered AIG subsidiary Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania to pay for it.

For the entire year-plus before the operation, Boiles had been in agonizing pain. "I was takin' a lot of medicines, so many it'd knock me out, but I was still hurtin'. I'd lay in bed and the sheets and everything would be wet from sweat, I was hurtin' so bad."

After his rig bottomed out in a bomb crater, AIG made former KBR trucker David Boiles of Willis suffer through 14 months of agonizing back pain and sciatica before they authorized surgery.
Daniel Kramer
After his rig bottomed out in a bomb crater, AIG made former KBR trucker David Boiles of Willis suffer through 14 months of agonizing back pain and sciatica before they authorized surgery.
Houston attorney Gary Pitts has won more Defense Base Act cases than any other lawyer, and he has the files to prove it.
Daniel Kramer
Houston attorney Gary Pitts has won more Defense Base Act cases than any other lawyer, and he has the files to prove it.

Worse, Boiles was told that the surgery was approved several times before it actually came to pass. "I got snake-eyed three or four times," he says. "I'd go down to the hospital, they'd start drawin' blood and get ready to do the surgery, and then they'd say, 'We have to do a 'medical review.'" And the surgery would be postponed...again and again.

Boiles said one of the surgeons told Boiles he was walking away from operating on him. "He was so mad he told me he wasn't gonna have anything to do with me, them or anybody else. He said there were a bunch of people at AIG who ought to be in jail for practicin' medicine without a license. That's what a lot of us are runnin' into: There's these people who go by some book that tells them what they are allowed or not allowed to do, and they are not doctors."

Enzweiler's story was similar, albeit focused more on his mental health than his physical well-being. Shortly after his return to the States, AIG sent an investigator around for a little chat. "We sat at my kitchen table for about two hours, and the first thing she asked me was, 'Can you prove you were actually blown up?'"

Enzweiler laughed bitterly. Evidently AIG had not availed itself of the reams of paperwork filed on the incident. There was a KBR report. There was another from the 101st Airborne. There was an Explosive and Ordnance report and a Quick Reactionary Force report. "And they found a projectile in my vehicle," Enzweiler says. "That conversation set the tone."

Nevertheless, for a little more than a year after his return, Enzweiler did get treatment and benefits. He was receiving PTSD treatment with the doctor of his choice. "I was very happy with it," he says. "I wanted it to continue. It was recommended that it be continued."

Then, in September 2011, Enzweiler was sent to a neuropsychological evaluation with an AIG-selected doctor. "He said I was perfectly fine," ­Enzweiler says. "He knew what he wanted to accomplish, and he did the best that he could. He's entitled to his opinion, but my problem was this: He quoted me as saying that I was perfectly fine and did not have PTSD, that all I wanted to do was sit around and take college courses online and I didn't want to go back to work. That and many other things were complete and utter lies, and I was so furious when I read his report, I called the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation and filed a complaint." (Nothing came of Enzweiler's complaint.)

AIG used that doctor's assessment to file a controversion of benefits: Enzweiler was on his own. And that was when he called the office of Gary Pitts and Joel Mills. "AIG is very polite until they hear Gary Pitts's name," Enzweiler says.

For Pitts, these Defense Base Act cases seem like a labor of love. There's not a huge amount of money in them, for one thing. Plaintiffs' lawyers in these cases are paid by the insurance companies on an hourly basis and only on the contingency that they win. (They collect none of their clients' settlements.) It's easy to get the sense that Pitts believes he is righting wrongs.  

"This is the sad part," he says. "I've seen guys in their fifties move in with their mom, go on food stamps, welfare, go into Ben Taub."
_____________________

Contractors will all tell you the general public has the wrong idea about them.

"Because of TV, the public's perception of a contractor is a drunken Blackwater guy taking a gun and blowing some Iraqi brains out," says Enzweiler. "They don't think of a 47-year-old potbellied guy who made bad financial decisions and only took this job because it was the only way to pay off a truck repossession."

Eighty percent of the guys who worked with Enzweiler were in the same boat, he estimates. Public sympathy for them is minimal, and whether or not the government knows that, it works in its favor.

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4 comments
hairyspecks
hairyspecks

Enzweiler states hes a Christian man. You allowed in destroying your own Marriage. Maybe you will finally have peace.

hairyspecks
hairyspecks

Enzweiler states hes a Christian man. You allowed in destroying your own Marriage. Maybe you will finally have peace.

hairyspecks
hairyspecks

What about the innocent 5 people you helped kill. you forgot to add that part. Christian man your not

gossamersixteen
gossamersixteen topcommenter

Really dislike AIG, they owe the taxpayers/Uncle Sam billions but seem to have no problem whatsoever in spending tens of thousands of dollars to put their logo in what appears to be neon on their building with a helicopter no less.  Very necessary my arse...

 
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