We know War is dangerous but we tend to think of the injuries as being physical injuries from bombs or weapons. When the worker returns home, we give a sigh of relief and life goes on. Or does it? On a return visit to Peru, we went to the hospital and checked on a former client for whom we obtained a settlement and we learned he was fighting cancer. Initially we saw this as an isolated case. Even when we were contacted by a different individual who had worked for contractors in the Iraq and/or Afghanistan war zones, and had contracted cancer, we were initially skeptical that the cancer was related to their deployment. Then we heard our former client died. This was not a “normal” cancer. It was, as the Doctor in Peru said, “like nothing we have ever seen.”
Almost everyone I speak to about those Wars, tells me they did not realize we fought those wars with foreign workers. They did not realize that American companies hired our fighters from far off places. Yes, we fought those wars with workers from Peru, Chile, Honduras, Uganda and Columbia. Why? Cheap labor for sure and when they were injured, we sent them home. They would have to rely on medical care in their own country.
Both US Military and foreign contract workers suffered stomach or lung problems after returning home. For the foreign contract workers, visits to their community hospitals turned up odd findings on Xrays. Yet there is little cancer treatment in these third world countries where the doctor might give out ibuprofen as treatment. Given the patient’s downward deterioration or consistent weight loss, returning workers gradually died. The doctors in local communities had never been to war zones and were not aware that an illness months later could be a manifestation of a war they knew little about.