Olson Urges Obama to Support Benefits For Fort Hood Purple Heart Victims
WASHINGTON, DC â€“ Rep. Pete Olson (TX-22) today sent a letter to President Obama urging support for combat veteran benefits for the military members who were wounded by former Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan, who fatally shot 13 people and wounded 31 others in a terrorist attack at Fort Hood Army Base in Texas. After Congress included language in a recent defense bill to reflect the combat nature of the attack they faced, the shooting victims were recognized during a Purple Heart and Defense of Freedom award ceremony. A recent news report outlined the struggle by one former Army soldier who was denied combat-related benefits as a result of being shot six times by Maj. Nidal Hasan.
"Our military men and women were brutally attacked by a fellow soldier while working in defense of our nation on an Army base," Rep. Olson said. "They deserve our highest gratitude and every measure of support their government can provide."Hasan himself called his attack on his fellow soldiers a retaliation for US wars in the Muslim world. America's military is fighting a brutal Global War on Terrorism. The men and women who defend us should not have to beg for care when they are victims of this war. I urge President Obama to do the right thing and ensure these heroes receive the care they deserve from a grateful nation."
Text of the letter:
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Obama,
As you are aware, on November 9, 2009, Nidal Malik Hasan, a U.S. Army major and psychiatrist, fatally shot 13 people and wounded 31 other military members in a terrorist attack at Fort Hood Army Base in Texas. He has subsequently been sentenced to death for his actions.
Earlier this year, Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act, which included language to specifically ensure that the Fort Hood victims are eligible to receive a Purple Heart because the brutal attack they suffered was inspired by a foreign terrorist group, and not workplace violence as the Department of Defense (DOD) originally labeled it.
While DOD has awarded the Purple Heart to these victims both living and posthumously, it has come to my attention that the Army has declined to provide the combat-related benefits that go along with this designation. According to a recent news report, "Army spokeswoman Cynthia O. Smith said...in a statement, â€œAll recipients of the Purple Heart Medal under section 571 of the NDAA 2015 will receive the benefits to which they are legally entitled. In the case at issue, no final decision has been rendered, and the Soldier will have a full opportunity to present evidence at a formal hearing."
The lengths to which these Purple Heart recipients have had to go through simply to have their military acknowledge they were victims of a terrorist attack is unconscionable. It literally took an act of Congress to secure a Purple Heart for men and women who were killed or severely injured in the line of duty by someone who purported to be a comrade in arms, but attacked them in the name of a terrorist regime. As was reported in the same news report, former Staff Sgt. Manning was shot six times by Maj. Nidal Hasan. He still has two bullets in his body and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. These men and women who put their life on the line in defense of this great nation deserve every acknowledgement of the trauma they suffered. Never should they have to beg for benefits they have earned through their service to America.
As a final decision has not yet been made on the status of these heroes' benefits, I urge you to weigh in on their behalf with DOD.
Member of Congress
Media Contact: Melissa Kelly