U.S. Senators Mark Pryor (D-AR) and John Boozman (R-AR) today sent a letter to leaders of the Congressional Armed Services Committee urging them to include a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would allow Pvt. William Long and Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula, military recruiters attacked outside of a Little Rock recruiting office, to be deemed as killed or injured in a combat zone -- making them eligible for the Purple Heart.
"The shooting at the Little Rock recruiting center underscores that there are no front lines when it comes to terrorism," Pryor said. "I'm pleased that yesterday's hearing raised attention to the circumstances, and that several members in the Senate and House offered to help these families receive the recognition they are due. Momentum and common-sense are on our side."
"Private Long and Private Ezeagwula's attacker was a terrorist with relations to international terrorist organizations. They were targeted for their service, dedication and devotion to our country and the war against terror. These men deserve the same benefits and honors as other service members who are attacked in a combat zone. The battlefield extends beyond war zones and I am committed to showing our support for the men and women who put their lives on the line in defense of our nation, no matter where they are serving," Boozman said.
Pryor and Boozman offered an amendment that would have allowed these Little Rock recruiters the same military honors given to Armed Service members killed or injured in a combat zone, during the Senate floor debate on the NDAA. However, the amendment was not considered.
The letter also asks for inclusion of language to honor members of the Armed Forces and civilians killed or wounded during the Fort Hood, Texas, attack in November 2009. The House-passed version of the NDAA included language that would provide the same treatment, benefits and honors to the Fort Hood casualties as those Americans who have been killed or wounded in a combat zone.
Senators Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), and John Cornyn (R-TX) also signed onto the letter.
The Senate and the House passed separate versions of the NDAA. A conference committee of members from each chamber is working out the differences between the two bills.