Fort Hood shooting victims still denied combat benefits

Victims of the Fort Hood terrorist attack may be getting Purple Hearts after Congress forced the Pentagon's hand.  But DoD is still denying combat benefits to at least some of the shooting victims, according to this article on Fox News:

Fox News has learned as part of its ongoing investigation of the 2009 terrorist attack that the military, at least in one case, is still denying benefits for injuries sustained in the attack.

"I think it's almost unheard of for someone to receive the Purple Heart but not have their injuries deemed combat-related," Shawn Manning, who was seriously injured in the 2009 attack, told Fox News. "I know that was not what Congress intended to have happen, but it is what currently the Army has determined is going to happen."

On Nov. 5, 2009, then-Staff Sgt. Manning was shot six times by Maj. Nidal Hasan. Two bullets are still in his body -- one in his leg, the other in his back -- and he suffers from PTSD.

The 2015 defense budget -- known as the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA -- included language that meant Fort Hood victims were eligible for the Purple Heart honor because the attack was inspired by a foreign terrorist group, and not workplace violence, as the Defense Department initially labeled it.

Manning submitted new paperwork so the Army would recognize his injuries were sustained in the line of duty. But his appeal was rejected by a physical evaluation board, apparently based on a narrow interpretation of the law.

"Section 571 of the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act addresses both the awarding of the Purple Heart to service members killed or wounded in attacks inspired or motivated by foreign terrorist organizations and the Defense of Freedom Medal for those members and civilians killed or wounded during the Fort Hood attack on 5 November 20009," the April 6 letter states.

"Nowhere in the act, however, does it offer combat benefits for service members permanently disabled in attacks inspired or motivated by foreign terrorist organizations. Although subsequent legislation and guidance may change, currently, the Board has no authority to award V1/V3 (service related) designation to soldiers disabled during the Fort Hood attack. "

There was a lot of resistance from the Pentagon to the idea that the victims should recieve a Purple Heart.  Some of that resistance was from traditionalists who believe that the medal should go only to those who sustain wounds in combat.  Others – many of them apparently civilians – were loath to acknowledge that the attack was even terrorism.

So this kind of pettifogging by minor officials is to be expected.  But that leaves soldiers like Manning out in the cold:

Manning said, “it's a great thing to finally be recognized, to stand up there and say, ‘Hey your sacrifice did mean something.’”

But he said the board’s decision means, on a practical level, his family will lose back pay, and $800 a month in benefits, adding he believes other Fort Hood survivors will face the same treatment. “I think you know it's a huge let-down. I hope that's not what the Army had intended to do."

Once again, Congress is going to have to pass specific legislation that will give these victims the benefits and recognition they deserve.  After having gone through so much, you would think in a $700-billion budget, the military could come up with some cash to ease the pain and suffering of the victims of this jihadist attack.  But it appears that the Pentagon won't move until Congress forces it to.

Victims of the Fort Hood terrorist attack may be getting Purple Hearts after Congress forced the Pentagon's hand.  But DoD is still denying combat benefits to at least some of the shooting victims, according to this article on Fox News:

Fox News has learned as part of its ongoing investigation of the 2009 terrorist attack that the military, at least in one case, is still denying benefits for injuries sustained in the attack.

"I think it's almost unheard of for someone to receive the Purple Heart but not have their injuries deemed combat-related," Shawn Manning, who was seriously injured in the 2009 attack, told Fox News. "I know that was not what Congress intended to have happen, but it is what currently the Army has determined is going to happen."

On Nov. 5, 2009, then-Staff Sgt. Manning was shot six times by Maj. Nidal Hasan. Two bullets are still in his body -- one in his leg, the other in his back -- and he suffers from PTSD.

The 2015 defense budget -- known as the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA -- included language that meant Fort Hood victims were eligible for the Purple Heart honor because the attack was inspired by a foreign terrorist group, and not workplace violence, as the Defense Department initially labeled it.

Manning submitted new paperwork so the Army would recognize his injuries were sustained in the line of duty. But his appeal was rejected by a physical evaluation board, apparently based on a narrow interpretation of the law.

"Section 571 of the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act addresses both the awarding of the Purple Heart to service members killed or wounded in attacks inspired or motivated by foreign terrorist organizations and the Defense of Freedom Medal for those members and civilians killed or wounded during the Fort Hood attack on 5 November 20009," the April 6 letter states.

"Nowhere in the act, however, does it offer combat benefits for service members permanently disabled in attacks inspired or motivated by foreign terrorist organizations. Although subsequent legislation and guidance may change, currently, the Board has no authority to award V1/V3 (service related) designation to soldiers disabled during the Fort Hood attack. "

There was a lot of resistance from the Pentagon to the idea that the victims should recieve a Purple Heart.  Some of that resistance was from traditionalists who believe that the medal should go only to those who sustain wounds in combat.  Others – many of them apparently civilians – were loath to acknowledge that the attack was even terrorism.

So this kind of pettifogging by minor officials is to be expected.  But that leaves soldiers like Manning out in the cold:

Manning said, “it's a great thing to finally be recognized, to stand up there and say, ‘Hey your sacrifice did mean something.’”

But he said the board’s decision means, on a practical level, his family will lose back pay, and $800 a month in benefits, adding he believes other Fort Hood survivors will face the same treatment. “I think you know it's a huge let-down. I hope that's not what the Army had intended to do."

Once again, Congress is going to have to pass specific legislation that will give these victims the benefits and recognition they deserve.  After having gone through so much, you would think in a $700-billion budget, the military could come up with some cash to ease the pain and suffering of the victims of this jihadist attack.  But it appears that the Pentagon won't move until Congress forces it to.