U.S. Senator Cornyn Calls for Full Benefits for Fort Hood Victims

John Cornyn Gage Skidmore / Flickr [/caption]

In the nearly 4 years since the massacre at Fort Hood, much attention has been paid to the shooter, with the victims being largely forgotten by the Obama administration and the mainstream media. But, now the former Major Nidal Hasan has been sentenced to death for the crimes he committed, one Texas lawmaker is seeking full benefits from the military for the victims.

On August 18, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) authored an op-ed in the Killeen Daily Herald calling for the shooting victims to receive the same benefits as those military members who are killed in combat. The incident is currently classified as a “workplace violence” incident and doesn’t receive the same benefits as a soldier killed in battle.

Cornyn said in the op-ed that it is the duty of the nation to ensure that the men and women killed on that day receive the full honors that they deserve and it’s a duty that, so far, the nation has failed at.

“Unfortunately, we have not yet lived up to that commitment. To date, no Purple Hearts or the civilian counterpart, the Medal for the Defense of Freedom, have been awarded to the victims. Many of the benefits associated with serving in overseas combat zones have been similarly withheld. Benefits like hostile fire pay and special compensation for combat-related disabilities. And families of victims are being denied the additional life insurance benefits and associated tax relief that they are due,” said Cornyn.

Cornyn points out that calling for the victims to receive the Purple Heart or it’s civilian equivalent are not without precedent. After the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, the Department of Defense awarded medals for those killed in the attacks.

Cornyn has once again drafted legislation that would give the victims all the benefits they would get if killed in combat. His previous attempt to get a similar measure passed didn’t get the traction it needed, as the shooter had not stood trial at the time and many in Congress thought the legislation could negatively affect the outcome of the trial.

But, Cornyn is introducing legislation again now that Hassan has been sentenced to death, though it is unlikely he will actually be executed. The sentence is currently under appeal and executions in the military are very rare.

Cornyn maintains that there is nothing political about this legislation; he simply wants to do the right thing for the victims and their families:

“Looking forward, I am optimistic that my legislation will garner broad, bipartisan support and be adopted in the upcoming defense authorization bill. There is nothing remotely political about this issue. It’s about honoring the victims and providing assistance to them and their loved ones.”

“We are a nation at war,” said Cornyn, “and the location in which our men and women in uniform come under hostile fire should not unduly prejudice them and their families from receiving the full honors, recognition and benefits associated with their courageous service.”