Contractors play a valuable role in modern U.S. military operations. They perform essential tasks like guarding bases, driving convoy trucks, maintaining military vehicles, serving as translators, and other work in combat zones or on U.S. bases outside the United States. Like their military counterparts, they can be injured on the job and when that happens, they may be entitled to Defense Base Act benefits.
Overview of the Defense Base Act
The Defense Base Act is an extension of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. It was enacted in 1941 and provides workers’ compensation and death benefits to employees of U.S. government contractors working overseas. These contractors are required to take out DBA workers’ compensation insurance for their workforces.
DBA claimants are eligible to have their medical expenses covered and receive benefits for the time they lose from work due to injury. Depending on the nature or extent of your injury, you may even be entitled to permanent disability benefits. Should you die as the result of your injuries, your dependents may also be eligible for benefits.
DBA Claims and PTSD
PTSD is a psychological condition or injury brought on by exposure to life-threatening or terrifying incidents. PTSD is common in people who have endured the rigours of combat. About 7 million people suffer from PTSD in the United States. Most people with PTSD lead normal and productive lives – if they get treatment. Without treatment, PTSD can cause significant physical, emotional, and psychological issues. The key is to get into treatment as soon as possible. Although PTSD can be something that you will live with for the rest of your life, treatment will allow you to return to a sense of “normalcy.”
Will Your PTSD Diagnosis Impact Your Ability to Work?
Mental illness and psychological injury are things that carry a negative stigma in most places, even sometimes here in the United States. Generally, however, the answer is that your PTSD diagnosis will not impact your ability to work. First, your current employer will not be notified of your diagnosis. Even if your employer did learn of your diagnosis, there are laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), that protect you from any retaliation based on a disability. PTSD is not a psychosis and is not the type of “mental illness” that makes an employee a danger to others. A PTSD diagnosis and treatment will not trigger any negative employment actions.
Can You Maintain a Commercial Driver’s License If You Have PTSD?
First, if you have PTSD, treatment is required. Untreated, your PTSD can lead to issues that would prohibit you from driving – like attempted suicide, psychiatric hospitalization, and other potential roadblocks. If you have PTSD, are receiving treatment, and your doctor certifies that you can safely operate a commercial vehicle, then you will have no problem. Typically, PTSD will not prevent you from maintaining a CDL, but always check with the FMCSA rules and your doctor to ensure the medications he/she may prescribe are appropriate.
Will a PTSD Diagnosis Impact Your Immigration Status?
Bottom Line: No. A PTSD diagnosis will have no impact on your immigration status.
Remember, if you have PTSD, then getting diagnosed and treated is how you prevent it from negatively impacting the other aspects of your life. Contact us if you think you are suffering from PTSD as a result of your employment overseas.