Army Interpreters Lack Benefits

When the U.S. invaded Iraq in March 2003, the Pentagon hired 8,000 interpreters from Titan Corp., a San Diego defense contractor. At a $12,000-a-year salary, these interpreters have braved roadside bombs and sniper fire, and some have also been the subjects of torture and assassination because the insurgency views them as collaborators. Between March 2003 and 2008, nearly 360 translators employed by Titan (or its successor company) have been killed, and approximately 1,200 were injured. But despite the service these individuals are providing the U.S., they are not seeing many benefits—specifically disability benefits. An investigation by the Los Angeles Times and ProPublica revealed that the insurance program funded by American taxpayers has "fallen painfully short of what was promised." Injured translators have faced delayed or denied claims by insurers for disability payments and death benefits, have been sent to Jordan for medical treatment, and have been pressured to accept lump-sum settlements instead of receiving a stream of lifetime benefits. Benefits only apply in translators’ home countries. American International Group Inc., the main provider of insurance, declined to respond to the investigation.