One of the unsung heroes from decades of battles and wars are the civilian military contractors that will risk their lives and have made the same sacrifices that a lot of soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen do. In my years in the military, I have had the opportunity to work with many military civilian contractors. I have witnessed them go above and beyond the call of duty to keep us in the fight and safe as well. Their jobs and duty hours are about the same or even longer than service member hours. It is not just a coincidence that most of them are veterans. Many of them have even served in combat.
Whether it be in Iraq, Afghanistan, or somewhere else, they all serve with pride and honor to protect freedom just as service members do. However, there has always been a negative sentiment towards civilian military contractors because of their income. This is due to the belief that the civilian contractors are there just for the money. Let’s face it, not all of them are there for the money. In most cases, yes, they make a lot more deployed overseas working for a civilian company then they would be doing the same job in the military. Why should we hold that against them when they are risking their lives the same as any military member?
The Jobs Civilian Contractors Do
The jobs they do vary from working in a DFAC to guarding a tower 8 hours a day. They don’t just deploy and sit around and play cards or watch movies. They are firemen, gate guards, mechanics, and even volunteers at the USO. In my first deployment overseas, I realized the actual importance of civilian contractors. I realized that they will go out of their way to help any military member just as if they were still active and right there in the fight with you. I was always more than impressed with the mechanics. They worked day and night to fix AC units in Humvees. They repaired and replaced parts to keep the convoys moving. On my second deployment while in Afghanistan, we had actual civilian contractor mechanics on our compound. Our mission was route clearance and for any 12B or EOD, you know what this can be like. You’re constantly having to repair equipment that had been hit by an IED, and you would frequently end up with mechanical failures. These issues can’t wait around for days to be fixed, no matter what hour of the day or night it is or the amount of time they had to go without sleep in order to keep the vehicles up and running. Then there are the USO employees that help entertain deployed service members who are thousands of miles from their families and friends. They bring you closer to home by running the phone centers. They keep the computers up and running for Skype and video calls, so you can see your family or that new-born child that you can’t wait to get home safe to. Then there is the gate and tower guard that work long shifts in extreme heat to keep every military member there safe.
Military Contractors Importance
There is no way that any battle overseas can be won without the civilian contractors and the jobs they do. Many civilian contractors have lost their lives since OIF/OEF, and unfortunately, as long as they deploy overseas, they will always be at risk of being in harm’s way. They too are serving their country. Once again, most of them are veterans, and just because they decided to either retire or leave the military and take advantage of their skills to better themselves financially, you must remember that they too have earned respect for the jobs they do overseas. They work hand-in-hand with the military and serve with the same purpose—to protect our freedom.