This past week the House of Representatives passed the National Defense Authorization Act of 2011 that included two important provisions for the casualties of the November 4 terror attack on Fort Hood. Meanwhile, the two key provisions to defend against similar future attacks were left up to the Senate to add into a final bill.
First, the House approved combat casualty status for all those killed or wounded in the radical Islamist attack, the same status we granted casualties from the September 11, 2001 Al Qaeda attack on the Pentagon. This means that if the final bill retains this measure, all military casualties will be eligible for the Purple Heart, while Department of Defense civilian employees will be eligible for the equivalent Defense of Freedom Award.
The second provision would allow the families of those soldiers who lost their lives to receive the improved tax, housing, and insurance benefits awarded to combat casualties, if they are not already receiving those benefits. In addition, both casualties and their families would be authorized to receive charitable gifts from outside groups, who have volunteered additional help that has been held up by current regulations.
Both of these provisions are essential to at least trying to soften the losses from this tragic terror attack against our soldiers while they stood unarmed on their home base.
But left out of the House version of the Defense Authorization Act were the two measures designed to prevent and defend against these type attacks in the future. Both measures were offered as amendments to the Act, but were not considered by the House Rules Committee for floor debate on the bill.
Under the first of these proposals, the current Military Whistleblower Protection Act would be expanded to include protections to prevent politically-correct persecution of service members and civilian defense employees who report radical Islamic and other ideological terror threats. Our military personnel and DOD employees must never again feel intimidated against reporting what they reasonably feel are security threats, from fear of being labeled as anti-Muslim or xenophobes, with resulting damage to their careers.
The second proposed amendment would require Active Shooter Training for all law enforcement personnel providing security to U.S. military installations. This training was received by the law enforcement officers who stopped the Fort Hood gunman in an open gunfight, and was credited by them as essential in being able to effectively respond to this type of mass public shooting. Every one of our law enforcement professionals providing security services on our military installations, whether active military or civilian contractors, should have this training.
Now it's the Senate's turn. If the "deliberative body" can maintain the relief measures for the casualties and families added in the House, and in turn add the two preventative measures not included by the House, the final Defense Authorization will have taken significant steps towards preventing another deadly politically-correct disaster, while providing some measure of healing to the victims of the tragic homeland security failure of November 4, 2009.