On December 21st, 2011 Matthew Wojciechowski, a member of the CIA’s paramilitary team (and former Navy SEAL) experienced crippling chest pain while conducting operations in the Middle East. His team completed their mission and afterwards took him to a local hospital, where he was (mis-)diagnosed with heartburn.

His team made this decision because of Wojciechowski’s status with the CIA – he was not on permanent duty with the Agency – and ultimately left him to fend for himself with the locals instead of using the American medical professionals available at the US Embassy. The US Embassy refused to help because of Wojciechowski’s temporary status.

According to Wojciechowski, his team leader at the CIA did nothing to help with his medical condition, with the exception of requesting that the Embassy medical staff conduct a physical fitness test. Wojciechowski was asked to run up and down a series of stairs, his heart rate was taken, and then he was cleared for duty.

According to Matthew, he was still in constant pain and in disbelief that no US healthcare professional within the US Embassy would help him.

Due to extreme ongoing chest pains, he would be forced off the next operational movement with his team and immediately flown home to the US to seek medical treatment.


It may be shocking to you that Americans protecting fellow Americans would be turned away from treatment, but these are the complexities and very real risks associated with American security contracting overseas. Regulations and poor leadership at the State Department often result in contractors receiving substandard medical care, suffering a much worse fate than their full-time counterparts.

“As a TDY (which means Temporary Duty Assignment) and not PCS (Permanent Duty Assignment) that employees of the CIA and State Department get, I am left to be treated at a local hospital, no matter how bad the care is. While at the hospital with my team, I finally get seen 10 hours later by a guy who appears to be on medication, who does not speak English, nor should be touching me at all, in my opinion. I get diagnosed with HEART BURN for the massive chest pain I was having – yup – and sent home – and not HOME LIKE USA HOME.. home like you will be fine take heartburn medicine and give it a few days.”