As military personnel numbers are reduced across the armed forces, the Defense Department is turning to civilian contractors to fill the readiness gap, but this decision comes at a cost. More and more contractors entering into combat environments are experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress when they return home.
In American military circles, it’s often said that the American military “contractor” is a dirty word. And sometimes with good reason, too --- the last decade has been filled with stories of fraud, waste, and blurred lines of warfighting roles. American contractors continue to infiltrate the most basic deployed military operations, and the relationship between the two forces have been strained, to say the least. To the military --- America’s proud heritage of national defense --- the contractor force is overpaid, under-regulated, and fails to meet the “mission first” ethos. For the contractor, the struggle to meet the unquenchable needs of the “all-in” military customer has created a culture of exceptionalism and over-defensiveness. In short, the military folks on the ground want their homegrown contractors to be more like them -- unbending in their willingness to sacrifice all things in the name of the mission -- while the contractors think their unique role should go unchallenged and extra considerations should be allotted to them.