Still calling it “workplace violence.”
FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) — Nearly three years after the shooting rampage at Fort Hood, many of those affected are urging the U.S. government to declare it a terrorist attack, saying wounded soldiers and victims’ relatives otherwise won’t receive the same benefits as those in a combat zone.
A video expressing their frustration was released Thursday by a group of about 160 people, including relatives of the 13 people killed at the Texas Army post and some of the more than two dozen wounded and their families.
They say soldiers injured or killed deserve fair benefits and Purple Heart eligibility.
“The victims are being forgotten and it’s frustrating,” Kimberly Munley, one of the first two officers who arrived at the shooting scene on Nov. 5, 2009, told The Associated Press on Thursday.
Because the defense secretary has not declared it a terrorist attack, the soldiers injured or killed have not received certain benefits and are not eligible for the Purple Heart, said John Stone, a spokesman for U.S. Rep. John Carter. The Texas Republican has sponsored a bill that would make those provisions available for the Fort Hood victims.
Maj. Nidal Hasan, an American-born Muslim, faces the death penalty if convicted of 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder. The case is on hold as his lawyers fight the trial judge’s order that Hasan either shave his beard, which violates Army rules, or be forcibly shaved before trial.
Staff Sgt. Shawn Manning, who was shot six times that day, said his injuries prevented him from continuing to serve. But he won’t receive the same benefits as those severely wounded on the battlefield because an Army medical evaluation board didn’t deem his injuries as combat-related, he said.
Manning also said he is upset that the Defense Department has referred to the shooting as workplace violence.
Witnesses have said that after lunch on Nov. 5, 2009, a gunman wearing an Army combat uniform opened fire after shouting “Allahu Akbar!” — or “God is great!” in Arabic — inside a Fort Hood medical building where deploying and returning soldiers received vaccines and other tests. He rapidly fired, pausing only to reload, shooting at soldiers hiding under desks and those fleeing the building, according to witnesses.