Special to the Journal
U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), Congressman John R. Carter (R-TX 31) and Congressman Roger Williams (R-TX 25) announced new legislation, the Honoring the Fort Hood Heroes Act, to be introduced in both Houses of Congress that would honor and support the victims of the Nov. 5, 2009 Fort Hood shooting.
“We are a nation at war, and the location in which our men and women in uniform come under hostile fire from a terrorist should not unduly prejudice them and their families from receiving the full honors, recognition and benefits associated with their courageous service,” said Sen. Cornyn. “As a nation, we have a sacred obligation to take care of them.”
“Justice was served when Nidal Hasan was found guilty and handed the death penalty. But justice has not been served for the victims of this horrific shooting. This legislation will ensure the victims of this obvious act of terrorism receive the benefits they not only need, but justly deserve,” Congressman Carter said. “We cannot continue allowing the Obama Administration to turn its back on these men and women by failing to admit this was indeed a terrorist attack on American soil. If the administration had properly labeled and managed the Fort Hood shooting from the beginning, this legislation would not be required. I will not stop the fight for the victims and I know my colleagues, Senator Cornyn and Rep. Williams, will seek every avenue to ensure justice is served for these victims.”
“The heinous attack on Fort Hood was a direct attack on the values and ideals our soldiers have sworn to defend. Nidal Hasan, the man who killed 13 and injured 32, said he switched sides in what he called a ‘U.S. war on Islam.’ This was not a disgruntled employee taking his anger out on coworkers, as the Administration would have you believe by labeling this an act of workplace violence. No, this was a terrorist attack meant to harm and kill U.S. soldiers who defend freedom and liberty for all Americans,” Congressman Williams said. “Because the President has placed more importance on political correctness than upholding his promise to take care of the victims, the victims have been neglected. This injustice must come to an end, and the Fort Hood Heroes Act is the right thing to do. It will restore the benefits, treatment and honor these men and women so rightly deserve. I applaud Senator Cornyn and Rep. Carter for their commitment to our troops at Fort Hood.”
Currently, the victims of the Fort Hood terrorist attack have not received the same awards and benefits as their deployed counterparts who are wounded or killed either through enemy action or a terrorist attack, because this attack took place on U.S. soil rather than in a designated combat zone. The Honoring the Fort Hood Heroes Act would correct this inequity and provide these benefits to the Fort Hood victims.
Declarations of Policy. The bill declares that: (1) the attack constituted an act of terrorism, not merely workplace violence; (2) the U.S. Government has a fundamental duty to our troops to safeguard them against avoidable harm, and the Fort Hood attack could and should have been prevented; (3) the perpetrator, Nidal Hasan, had become radicalized while serving in the U.S. Army and was principally motivated to attack by an ideology of violent Islamist extremism; and (4) Hasan proved himself to be not just a terrorist, but also a traitor and an enemy of the U.S.
Military Awards. The bill would require the Secretary of the Army to award Purple Hearts to those Soldiers who were killed/wounded in the attack, and require the Secretary of Defense to award the Secretary of Defense Medal for the Defense of Freedom (Purple Heart equivalent for civilians) to civilians who were killed/wounded.
Certain Benefits. The bill would provide certain benefits to the victims of the attack who were killed/wounded and their families (retroactively to the date of the attack), by deeming the killing/wounding to have occurred:
o For Soldiers, in a combat zone and at the hands of an enemy of the United States.
o For civilian DoD employees, by hostile action while serving alongside the Armed Forces during a contingency operation, and in a terrorist attack.
Under this legislation, victims and families of victims of the Fort Hood terrorist attack would be made eligible for certain benefits that have been withheld from them, including:
• Combat-related special compensation;
• Maximum coverage under Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance;
• Tax breaks after death in combat zone or terrorist attack;
• Special pay for subjection to hostile fire or imminent danger;
• Combat-related injury rehabilitation pay; and
• Meals at military treatment facilities.