The victims of the Fort Hood attack deserve answers and Congressman John Carter (R-TX31) is demanding those answers. On Thursday, Rep. Carter, who serves on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, questioned Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel about two important issues facing our military; the status of a report on the Fort Hood and Little Rock terrorist attacks as well as the morale of soldiers faced with more work due to the President's Sequester.
"These men and women have sacrificed enough. I will not let this administration continue to place the burden on their backs," said Rep. Carter, who represents Fort Hood. "I will fight to make sure the victims of the Fort Hood terrorist attack receive their due benefits and honors and I will work to make sure our soldiers are not burdened from the President's Sequester."
During the Department of Defense hearing March 13, Rep. Carter asked Secretary Hagel:
"Mr. Secretary, I hate to get local, but this issue is very important to me and the community that I represent. It also has significant impacts across the Department. Can you provide the current status, and any other updates, for these reports?"
Secretary Hagel responded that he has not yet seen a recommendation but would make is final conclusion upon seeing that report. The FY2014 Defense Authorization requires two reviews and reports regarding the issuance of the Purple Heart to the victims of the Fort Hood, TX and Little Rock, AR attacks as well as an examination of whether Purple Hearts are still relevant in today's battlefield. Those reports are due this May.
Rep. Carter is also concerned about force reduction within the military, particularly the Army, soldier morale and readiness, asking Secretary Hagel, "Our men and women join the service with the understanding that they will perform duties associated with their Military Occupational Specialty (MOS). Recently, I have heard concerns about the effect on morale of our Service Members who are being tasked to perform duties that have nothing to do with their military skills. The morale of our Service Members severely impacts the efficiency and performance of the military, and must be taken into consideration when seeking these efficiencies. Has this issue been brought to your attention? How do you plan to address this issue to ensure that our men and women are performing the tasks that they signed up for? As the DoD reduces the civilian and military workforce as this budget proposes, can we anticipate that our Service Members will have to perform more of the support roles that were once conducted by the civilian workforce? And finally, what consideration, if any, does the DoD give to the effects these civilian workforce reductions have on the surrounding communities around our military installations?"
Secretary Hagel deferred to General Dempsey who did address the issue that Sequester is to blame for service members performing tasks outside of their MOS, which were once performed by contractors.
Rep. Carter will continue demanding answers from the Department of Defense and Secretary Hagel on both issues, especially in his new role on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. Chairman Carter, who co-authored the Honoring the Fort Hood Heroes Act (H.R. 3111)with Congressman Roger Williams (R-TX25) has 225 co-sponsors of the bill and is pushing to get the bill passed by the House of Representatives.