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Texans introduce bill for victims of Fort Hood terrorist Attack

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

United States Senators John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison, along with Republican Congressman John Carter, also from Texas, jointly introduced the Fort Hood Victims and Families Benefits Protection Act in the US Senate and House of Representatives.
This bill, introduced on Thursday, Feb. 7, would ensure that the victims of the Nov. 5, 2009, attack at Fort Hood receive the same benefits and honors as Americans who have been killed or wounded in a declared combat zone overseas.
Cornyn said, "The federal government failed to prevent the terrorist attack on Fort Hood, but it still has an opportunity to do the right thing for the victims and their families. The victims were attacked by someone who shares common cause with the very same terrorists our troops are fighting overseas on the battlefields of the Global War on Terror."
Not pulling any punches, he continued, "When Americans fall victim to a senseless act of Islamic terrorism on US soil, the physical and mental wounds are no less severe than when the same attack happens in Afghanistan or Iraq. As such, they deserve the very same benefits and honors for their service and sacrifice. My prayers remain with the fallen, the injured, and their families and friends, and I hope this legislation will aid in their healing process."
The terrorist attack that shook Fort Hood in the fall of 2009 that killed 13 servicemen and servicewomen and one civilian with the Department of Defense (DoD), also wounded 32 others. The attack was described as "the deadliest terrorist attack within the United States since Sept. 11, 2001," according to a report issued recently by a Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
Unfortunately, those allegedly killed and wounded at Fort Hood by homegrown Islamic extremist, Nidal Malik Hasan, will not necessarily receive the same benefits and honors as their counterparts wounded or killed in an overseas combat zone such as Afghanistan or Iraq or in a declared terrorist attack.
The Fort Hood Victims and Families Benefits Protection Act will rectify that.
"On the tragic day that our service men and women were murdered on US soil, Fort Hood became another battlefield in the War on Terror," Hutchison said. "There can be no question that these brave soldiers were engaged in enemy combat when they were attacked/ Their service and sacrifice in this war must be recognized."
She continued, "Their families' painful loss should also be met with our nation's support and gratitude. Our legislation would honor these fallen heroes and their families in the manner they so rightly deserve."
Carter added, "We cannot allow political correctness to deny the victims of this attack the proper recognition and status they deserve. We awarded combat status to our casualties from the radical Islamist attack on the Pentagon, and we owe no less to our casualties from the radical Islamist attack on Fort Hood."
The bill would deem that the Fort Hood attack - for the purposes of all applicable laws and other rules - occurred in a combat zone at the hands of a terrorist and an enemy of the United States. This legislation would give the victims of the Fort Hood attack - both troops and civilians - the same benefits as members of the US Armed Forces wounded or killed in combat zones. The bill would also benefit Department of Defense D civilians wounded or killed in "contingency operations" or terrorist attacks.
Another of the bill's provisions would make service members wounded or killed in the Fort Hood attack eligible for the Purple Heart - to be awarded at the discretion of the military - and its equivalent, the Secretary of Defense Medal for the Defense of Freedom available to DoD civilian employees.