The mothers' lawsuit may finally force some exposure to the murky world of private military contracting that has only gained in notoriety and controversy since the Iraq war began.
"There's more than 20,000 private military contractors on the ground. So when we talk about a coalition of the willing, in reality, we have a coalition of the billing there," said P.W. Singer, a senior foreign policy fellow at Brookings Institution and author of "Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry." "It's a hundred billion dollars worth of business of companies carrying out roles that soldiers used to do."
Based out of Moyock, N.C., Blackwater has been awarded more than $80 million worth of security contracts. Its owner, Erik Prince, a former Navy SEAL with influential family ties to the Republican Party, would not talk with ABC News for this report. His father, Edgar Prince, was a prominent Republican Party donor and helped Gary Bauer found the Family Research Council, a "pro-family" lobbying group. His sister, Betsy DeVos, is a former chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party.
The rapid growth of military contracting is cause for concern, said Singer, particularly in the lack of industry oversight.
"Because it's such a new industry, there's no laws there," he said. "There's no courts that people have been able to turn to. The military can't control them because they're not part of the military. And then finally you have issues of basic managerial oversight, and that's been absent here. Specifically, the Pentagon doesn't even know how many of these guys are working for them, let alone what they're doing in these cases."
Officially, the company has expressed its regrets to the families but says its men knew what they were getting into in Iraq. They have asked for the lawsuit to be dismissed.
Helvenston-Wettengel said she will continue her fight for her son. "I can't stop," she said. "I'm not going to stop. They cannot do this and get away with it."