Obama Administration’s Negligence of Fort Hood Victimsby Former Representative Frank R. Wolf
Posted on 2013-02-12
in the house of representatives
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Mr. WOLF. Mr. Speaker, I submit a report that will air on ABC News
tonight about the Obama Administration's negligence of the Fort Hood
survivors and their families.
This was clearly a terrorist attack and while the administration has designated this attack as ``workplace violence,'' the survivors cannot access assistance. We are not treating these people fairly.
[From ABC News, Feb. 12, 2013] Fort Hood Hero Says Obama `Betrayed' Her, Other Victims (By Ned Berkowitz and Brian Ross) Three years after the White House arranged a hero's welcome at the State of the Union address for the Fort Hood police sergeant and her partner who stopped the deadly shooting there, Kimberly Munley says President Obama broke the promise he made to her that the victims would be well taken care of.
``Betrayed is a good word,'' former Sgt. Munley told ABC News in a tearful interview to be broadcast tonight on ``World News with Diane Sawyer'' and ``Nightline.'' ``Not to the least little bit have the victims been taken care of,'' she said. ``In fact they've been neglected.'' There was no immediate comment from the White House about Munley's allegations.
Thirteen people were killed, including a pregnant soldier, and 32 others shot in the November 2009 rampage by the accused shooter, Major Nidal Hasan, who now awaits a military trial on charges of premeditated murder and attempted murder.
Tonight's broadcast report also includes dramatic new video, obtained by ABC News, taken in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, capturing the chaos and terror of the day.
Munley, since laid off from her job with the base's civilian police force, was shot three times as she and her partner, Sgt. Mark Todd, confronted Hasan, who witnesses said had shouted ``Allahu Akbar'' as he opened fire on soldiers being processed for deployment to Afghanistan.
As Munley lay wounded, Todd fired the five bullets credited with bringing Hasan down.
Despite extensive evidence that Hasan was in communication with al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki prior to the attack, the military has denied the victims a Purple Heart and is treating the incident as ``workplace violence'' instead of ``combat related'' or terrorism.
Al-Awlaki has since been killed in a U.S. drone attack in Yemen, in what was termed a major victory in the U.S. efforts against al Qaeda.
Munley and dozens of other victims have now filed a lawsuit against the military alleging the ``workplace violence'' designation means the Fort Hood victims are receiving lower priority access to medical care as veterans, and a loss of financial benefits available to those who injuries are classified as ``combat related.'' Some of the victims ``had to find civilian doctors to get proper medical treatment'' and the military has not assigned liaison officers to help them coordinate their recovery, said the group's lawyer, Reed Rubenstein. ``There's a substantial number of very serious, crippling cases of post-traumatic stress disorder exacerbated, frankly, by what the Army and the Defense Department did in this case,'' said Rubenstein. ``We have a couple of cases in which the soldiers' command accused the soldiers of malingering, and would say things to them that Fort Hood really wasn't so bad, it wasn't combat.'' A spokesperson for the Army said its policy is not to comment on pending litigation, but that it is ``not true'' any of the military victims have been neglected and that it has no control over the guidelines of the Veterans Administration. Secretary of the Army John McHugh told ABC News he was unaware of any specific complaints from the Fort Hood victims, even though he is a named defendant in the lawsuit filed last November which specifically details the plight of many of them.
``If a soldier feels ignored, then we need to know about it on a case by case basis,'' McHugh told ABC News. ``It is not our intent to have two levels of care for people who are wounded by whatever means in uniform.'' Some of the victims in the lawsuit believe the Army Secretary and others are purposely ignoring their cases out of political correctness.
``These guys play stupid every time they're asked a question about it, they pretend like they have no clue,'' said Shawn Manning, who was shot six times that day at Fort Hood. Two of the bullets remain in his leg and spine, he said.
``It was no different than an insurgent in Iraq or Afghanistan trying to kill us,'' said Manning, who was twice deployed to Iraq and had to retire from the military because of his injuries.
An Army review board initially classified Manning's injuries as ``combat related,'' but that finding was later overruled by higher-ups in the Army.
Manning says the ``workplace violence'' designation has cost him almost $70,000 in benefits that would have been available if his injuries were classified as ``combat related.'' ``Basically, they're treating us like I was downtown and I got hit by a car,'' he told ABC News.
For Alonzo Lunsford, who was shot seven times at Fort Hood and blinded in one eye, the military's treatment is deeply hurtful.
``It's a slap in the face, not only for me but for all of the 32 that wore the uniform that day,'' he told ABC News.
Lunsford's medical records show his injuries were determined to be ``in the line of duty'' but neither he nor any of the other soldiers shot or killed at Fort Hood is eligible for the Purple Heart under the Department of Defense's current policy for decorations and awards.
Army Secretary McHugh says awarding Purple Hearts could adversely affect the trial of Major Hasan.
``To award a Purple Heart, it has to be done by a foreign terrorist element,'' said McHugh. ``So to declare that soldier a foreign terrorist, we are told, I'm not an attorney and I don't run the Justice Department, but we're told would have a profound effect on the ability to conduct the trial.'' Members of Congress, including the chairman of the House Homeland Security committee, Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, say they will introduce legislation to force the military and the Obama administration to give the wounded and dead the recognition and honors they deserve.
``It was clearly an act of terrorism that occurred that day, there's no question in my mind,'' McCaul told ABC News. ``I think the victims should be treated as such.'' Former Sgt. Munley says she now believes the White House used her for political advantage in arranging for her to sit next to Michelle Obama during the President's State of the Union address in 2010.
Munley says she has no hesitation now speaking out against the President or taking part in the lawsuit, because she wants to help the others who were shot that day and continue to suffer.
``We got tired of being neglected. So this was our last resort and I'm not ashamed of it a bit,'' she said.