Washington sends men to war and then expects them to shut up

Project on Government Oversight uncover a terrible tale of the US establishment punishing somebody who dared tell the truth about the US war machine:

On a hot, parched day in June 2004, a convoy of Humvees was making its way across Iraq’s Sunni Triangle when a roadside bomb exploded, mangling the head vehicle and knocking lead gunman Mike Helms unconscious. The force of the impact blew 2,000 rounds of ammunition from the Humvee. The other soldiers, seeing Helms’ limp frame, thought he was dead.

Helms, an intelligence specialist deployed to the Army’s 902nd Military Intelligence (MI) Group, was alive—but he was wrongfully denied military medical care. When he tried to speak out about the U.S. military’s poor treatment of deployed civilians in Iraq, he plunged into a whistleblower’s worst nightmare: as he was losing his health, reprisal against him caused him to lose his livelihood.

A previously undisclosed Department of Defense (DoD) InspectorGeneral (IG) report obtained by POGO and dated October 2010, substantiates Helms’ claim that the military retaliated against him because of his whistleblowing. As the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2011 makes its way through Congress, there is no better time to shed light on Helms’ story.

“I just told the truth about what happened to me,” Helms told POGO in an interview. “But I didn’t have any protection. If it was up to some people, I would never work in the federal government again.”

Helms was hired as a federal civilian employee, but was eventually authorized to work as a lead gunman, partly because of his former soldier experience. According to Helms, there were not enough personnel for the convoys, so he was moved to the position to ensure there was enough trained military crew on the task force. The U.S. military treated Helms as a soldier: he ate military rations, worked alongside troops and came under enemy fire.… 

But all that changed when Helms was actually injured by enemy fire. According to DoD policy, civilians who are injured while deployed are supposed to receive the same treatment as military members. However, according to an unclassified DoD paper from 2005 on Helms’ case, this policy is often overlooked, because it is uncommon for DoD civilians sustain war-related injuries that require extensive recovery periods.