U.S. Reps. Tom Rooney (FL-17), John Carter (TX-31), Tim Griffin (AR-02), Michael McCaul (TX-10), Roger Williams (TX-25) and Frank Wolf (VA-10) today introduced new legislation, the "Justice for Fort Hood and Little Rock Heroes Act," to ensure that victims of the attacks on Fort Hood and Little Rock receive the same benefits as Purple Heart recipients, including combat-related special compensation.
"These are American soldiers who were attacked on base, by an enemy of this country, for doing their job. We have a moral obligation to make sure they get the care and benefits they need, but we have run into repeated objections from the Department of Defense on how to achieve that goal. After exchanging letters with the Army and meeting personally with DoD representatives, I'm confident that this new legislation addresses their concerns while ensuring the victims of the Fort Hood attack get the full range of benefits they deserve," said Rep. Rooney, who served as a prosecutor at Fort Hood as a member of the U.S. Army JAG Corps.
"The victims of these tragic shootings deserve the full help and devotion of our country. This bill brings us one step closer to providing the soldiers of the Fort Hood and Little Rock shootings the benefits they deserve," said Chairman Carter. "I am proud to support Rep. Rooney's efforts to provide these soldiers with the assistance they have earned and will continue to work with him and my colleagues resolve the aftermath of these tragic events."
"Like the victims of the Fort Hood massacre, Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula and Pvt. William Long were shot outside of their Little Rock recruiting station because they were serving their country in the armed forces of the United States," Rep. Griffin, a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve said. "They are American heroes, and they and their families deserve the essential benefits provided by this bill."
"The victims of the Fort Hood and Little Rock attacks deserve to be treated as the heroes they are. Anyone who lays down their life for this country must be respected by our nation. The Justice for Fort Hood and Little Rock Heroes Act fulfills the promise made to the victims and memorializes them for their bravery and sacrifice," said Rep. McCaul, House Homeland Security Chairman.
"It has been nearly four years since the horrific massacre at Fort Hood took 13 lives and injured 32, and the victims and their families are still struggling with the physical, financial and emotional trauma without any help from the federal government. Just as our men and women in uniform honor their commitment to serve and protect our country, we must honor our commitment to them by providing the necessary relief during times of crisis. These admirable soldiers, civilian, and their families deserve better, and I will continue working with my colleagues in Congress to ensure they receive the treatment, benefits and honors they have dutifully earned," said Rep. Williams.
"This bill corrects the injustice resulting from the Obama Administration's inexcusable handling of the terrorist attacks against U.S. service members in Ft. Hood and Little Rock ," Rep. Wolf, Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman, said. "This legislation would finally extend the benefits and recognition the victims of the attack -- who are American heroes -- deserve. This is long overdue, and the Congress should advance this bill immediately when we return in September."
In response to previous requests and legislative proposals to provide improved benefits to the Fort Hood and Little Rock victims, DoD has objected to designating either the attack as an act of terror and has denied requests to award the victims with the Purple Heart. The "Justice for Fort Hood and Little Rock Heroes Act" would address these concerns while providing needed benefits for the victims. Instead of explicitly designating the attack as an act of terror or combat, and without requiring the Army to award the victims with the Purple Heart, the bill would:
* Provide all members of the Armed Forces who were wounded or killed in the Fort Hood and Little Rock, AR attacks, or their survivors, with all the benefits afforded to recipients of the Purple Heart;
* Make victims of the attacks eligible for combat-related special compensation; and,
* Encourage state and local governments to make the Fort Hood and Little Rock victims eligible for any benefits they provide to members of the Armed Forces who are killed or wounded while serving in the line of duty.
"I disagree with the Army's concerns and firmly believe we should designate the Fort Hood shooting as a terrorist attack. However, with this bill we have found a way to set that debate aside, work together and make sure the victims and their families get the care they need," Rooney added.