Rep wants combat status for Fort Hood victims
Published: April 15, 2011
WASHINGTON – For the third year in a row, Texas Rep. John Carter is pushing to get combat status recognition for victims of the Fort Hood shooting in November 2009. The shooting left 14 dead and 32 wounded, and has been dubbed a clear act of “radical Islamic terrorism” by Carter and other conservatives in the House.
If approved, the move would make the shooting victims eligible to receive the Purple Heart, as well as allow those troops and surviving family members to collect combat zone insurance payouts. Congress passed similar legislation following the Sept. 11 attacks to declare the Pentagon a combat zone, allowing those victims extra benefits.
Lawmakers on the House Armed Services Committee approved the move in their initial drafts of the annual defense budget bills last year, but the item was dropped from the final authorization bill amid a flurry of December legislative fights.
In a statement, Carter said that “those injured or killed in terrorist acts, whether in combat zones or on U.S. soil, have sacrificed their lives or health for this country and the very least we can do for their eternal sacrifice is ensure that they or their family will be taken care of and protected.”
The combat status distinction does not change the long-term military medical care options for the wounded, but could retroactively give them thousands of dollars in bonuses and money to cover expenses related to the attack. Carter said he would push to include the language in the fiscal 2012 Defense Authorization Bill, already under debate in the House.
The court martial of the accused Fort Hood shooter, Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, is expected to take place later this month. He could face the death penalty if convicted.