Reps. Carter and Williams introduce new bill to help Fort hood victims
The Fort Hood Heroes Act, introduced today by Congressman John Carter (R-TX31) and Congressman Roger Williams (R-TX25), would ensure the victims of the tragic Nov. 5, 2009 terrorist attack on Fort Hood receive their due benefits and awards. The Honoring the Fort Hood Heroes Act is a companion bill to Senator John Cornyn’s (R-TX) legislation, introduced last week. Before the bill’s introduction, 118 original cosponsors signed on, with more expected this week. Some original co-sponsors include Reps. Bill Flores (R-TX17), Michael McCaul (R-TX10), Tom Rooney (R-FL17) and Frank Wolf (R-VA10).
The bill would ensure the victims receive the benefits and military awards they deserve along with labeling the shooting as a terrorist attack. Nidal Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, was convicted last month and sentenced to death for killing 13 servicemembers, an unborn child and a DoD civilian employee. He also wounded 32 other individuals in the attack.
“We know this was an act of terror. Nidal Hasan admitted in court that he was defending the Taliban. There is no doubt this coward is a terrorist and it’s time for the Obama Administration and DoD to step up, help these victims and properly label this as a terrorist attack . The Fort Hood Heroes Act will make sure this attack is label as it should be, in turn ensuring these brave men and women get the help, benefits and honors they need and deserve,” said Congressman John Carter, co-author of the Fort Hood Heroes Act and Chairman of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee.
“It’s past time for the Obama Administration to call this attack what it truly was – a terrorist attack. Nobody in America thinks this gruesome attack was workplace violence, and the evidence shows Hasan’s motive was to kill U.S. soldiers in defense of his radical beliefs,” said Congressman Roger Williams, co-author of the Fort Hood Heroes Act. “The President has not lived up to his promise to provide for the victims who have suffered for nearly four years with physical, financial and emotional burdens. I’m proud to stand with my colleagues in Congress to demand action and right this wrong. The Honoring the Fort Hood Heroes Act will provide the much needed relief owed to these men and women who have admirably served our country. They deserve better, and I hope this legislation moves quickly through Congress to the President’s desk.”
To date, 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 such as Afghanistan. This bill would correct this inequity and provide these benefits to the Fort Hood victims. In addition, the Federal Government set a historic precedent when it awarded military victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks with the Purple Heart medal, and civilian victims with the Secretary of Defense Medal for the Defense of Freedom, and this legislation will continue that precedent for the Fort Hood victims.
“With the trial over and Hasan sentenced to death, the Department of Defense has run out of excuses – it’s time for DoD and the Obama Administration to work with us and make sure the victims of this horrific massacre and their families get the assistance they have earned. Now that the shooter has been brought to justice, we need to redouble our efforts to ensure justice for his victims by providing them with the benefits they need and deserve,” said Rep. Tom Rooney (FL-17), a former member of the U.S. Army JAG Corps who served at Fort Hood as a prosecutor.
“With the Hasan trial behind us, we must now make certain that those wounded and the families of those killed at Fort Hood receive the benefits to which they are entitled as a result of this act of terror. These Americans have made tremendous sacrifices for our country and it is time we honor those sacrifices justly,” Congressman Bill Flores said. “I am committed to ensuring that the victims and victims’ families are granted the equal treatment that those killed and wounded on the battlefields of the War on Terror would receive. It is a travesty that the president continues to classify this terrible incident as workplace violence. My House colleagues and I remain committed to correcting this injustice for our brave military men and women.”
"The administration's designation of 'workplace violence' has robbed the victims and their families of the recognition and benefits they are due, and continues this administration's failure to acknowledge we are at war with a radical ideology," said House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX). "Our nation owes a debt of gratitude to members of our Armed Services who are wounded or lay down their own lives in service to this country, whether on foreign lands or on American soil."
“This legislation is a good start in doing what should have been done right away, not four years later: It provides, at the very least, the benefits and recognition the victims of the attack – who are American heroes – deserve, and it classifies the tragedy as what it was: a terrorist attack,” Congressman Frank Wolf said. “As Americans, we should never miss the opportunity to honor those brave men and women who fight and defend our freedom every day, and the same goes for the victims of the Fort Hood tragedy. This is long overdue, and the Congress should advance this bill immediately.”
- Declarations of Policy. The bill would declare that: (1) the attack constituted an act of terrorism; (2) the attack on Fort Hood could and should have been prevented, (3) the perpetrator, Nidal Hasan, had become radicalized and was principally motivated by an ideology of violent Islamist extremism; and (4) Hasan proved himself to be 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 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, by deeming the killing/wounding to have occurred:
- For Soldiers, in a combat zone and at the hands of an enemy of the United States.
- For civilian DoD employees, by hostile action while serving alongside the Armed Forces during a contingency operation, and in a terrorist attack.
Possible Benefits: 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;
· Unearned portions of bonuses;
· Combat-related injury rehabilitation pay; and
· Meals at military treatment facilities.
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