Security contracting used to be a very lucrative field. I remember that friends of mine were making over $5k a day in Iraq during the second invasion that would years later leave the region destabilized, embolden Iran, and kick off the rise of ISIS.
U.S. politicians burned through two trillion like we burned shit in latrine pits in Afghanistan in 2001. I can still smell the mix of human excrement and diesel on fire. A large part of that sum went to security contractors, cooks, logistics, interpreters, vehicles, and so on.
“The war has forced 2.7 million Afghans to flee abroad, mostly to Iran, Pakistan and Europe […] Another four million are displaced within the country, which has a total population of 36 million.
Meanwhile, 2,442 U.S. troops have been killed and 20,666 wounded in the war since 2001, according to the Defense Department. It’s estimated that over 3,800 U.S. private security contractors have been killed. The Pentagon does not track their deaths.”
In 2006 an electrical contractor working for the U.S. in a combat zone could make around $2,000 dollars a day. Keep in mind this was their take-home money. The Defense contractor charging Uncle Sam would have been making another $2,000 or more on top of that.
America’s leaders spent money like a sailor on indefinite shore leave in Bangkok.
But now, we are in uncharted territory as the Afghanistan War has ended and we try and print our way out of the current financial crisis before things get worse.
Security Contracting and Veterans’ Health
All this means an end to the contracting boom for big defense companies, and, therefore, an end to a stable source of income for many transitioning warfighters. The latter is what concerns me.
We face the largest transition of active-duty servicemembers since WWII. And now a big source of income for these servivemembers is going to dry up.
This will breed economic uncertainly for many veterans. And economic uncertainty could negatively affect their mental health.
It is likely that suicide rates will continue to climb.
As a former OGA contractor, following my service in the SEAL Teams, I can’t help reflect on the large pool of jobs going away and how this will impact a large transitioning veteran workforce that will be forced into the foreign world of the civilian workplace.
One thing is for certain: there are dark times ahead for the veteran community and, “Thank you for your service” isn’t going to cut it.