The bill will make certain the victims of the Fort Hood attack receive the same benefits as their deployed counterparts who are wounded or killed either through enemy action abroad or a terrorist attack.
Sens. Moran and Cornyn were joined in introducing the bill by U.S. Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas).
“For nearly four years, the victims of the tragic Fort Hood shooting have failed to receive the equal honor and respect they deserve because the attack took place on U.S. soil rather than in a designated combat zone such as Afghanistan,” Sen. Moran said. “I am proud to introduce legislation to correct this injustice and provide much-deserved recognition and benefits to the Fort Hood shooting victims.”
In addition to current benefits inequity the Fort Hood victims, 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.
Sen. Moran’s legislation states that the same precedent should be followed for the Fort Hood victims.
Under the Honoring the Fort Hood Heroes Act, victims and families of victims 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.
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:
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.