A Democrat has added his name to the list of lawmakers frustrated with the Pentagon’s insistence on calling the Fort Hood shooting “workplace violence.”
Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.) joined with Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), a longtime critic of the administration’s treating of Fort Hood, in slamming the “political sensitivities” that have kept the attack from being recognized as an act of terror. Wolf and Fattah serve together as chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies.
Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.), also a member of the Appropriations Committee, is the third congressman on the letter sent to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel yesterday.
“We write today on behalf of the 14 murdered, the 32 wounded by gunfire and the many other soldiers, civilians and family members injured in the November 5, 2009, Fort Hood terror attack,” the trio said in the letter.
“The Department of Defense and the Army have designated the attack by Major Nidal Hasan as ‘workplace violence.’ This designation has since resulted in an embarrassing lack of care and treatment by our military for the victims and their families. We understand this decision was not made under your leadership. Therefore, we ask that you swiftly reclassify the victims’ deaths and injuries as ‘combat-related’ so that they and their families may qualify for the full scope of benefits provided to service members and DoD civilian employees who are killed or injured in combat, and to ensure that they are treated with appropriate decency and respect from this point forward,” it continues.
Victims, the members said, have “revealed claims of mistreatment by the Army” in meeting with the lawmakers, including “repeated denials and delays of medical treatment for individuals with physical injuries, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury; denials of retirement benefits; and overall negligence and disregard.”
“When members of our military and DoD civilians are brutally attacked – whether at home or abroad, by a ‘lone wolf’ or by a ‘card-carrying member’ of a designated terrorist organization – it is our responsibility to provide adequate oversight over DoD and the Army’s policies and decisions, both before and after such an attack,” Rooney, Fattah and Wolf wrote.
“The Army’s preferential treatment of Major Hasan – notwithstanding his open extremism and support for religious violence – and the FBI’s refusal to interview Hasan or notify his superiors of his multiple communications with the notorious terrorist leader Anwar al-Awlaki, apparently because of political sensitivities in the Washington Field Office, led to the Fort Hood attack. Frankly, we are deeply concerned that the same considerations of ‘political correctness’ that caused the horrible toll of deaths and injuries at Fort Hood have also informed the Army’s decision to deem his attack an act of ‘workplace violence.’”
The two Republicans and Democrat called the “workplace violence” classification “an irresponsible, indefensible breach of our nation’s sacred pledge to our service members.”
That designation not only makes the victims ineligible for Purple Hearts but puts a host of healthcare and counseling services out of the reach of victims and family members.
“At this stage, designating the victims’ deaths and injuries as ‘combat-related’ is a necessary and appropriate first step of good faith by your Department. Such a designation would be tangible evidence that our government keeps its promises, albeit years after the fact. Furthermore, a ‘combat-related’ designation is a necessary condition for the heroes of that day, and their families who survive them, to finally begin the process of healing,” the lawmakers wrote.
“Therefore, we respectfully request that you reclassify the terrorist attack at Fort Hood as ‘combat-related’ in support of the victims, survivors and their families who have to suffer the effects of this horrifying incident every day. The current ‘workplace violence’ designation is a distortion of the truth that discredits our military, and it should be overturned immediately.”
If you want to tweet thanks to Fattah for standing up for Fort Hood victims, he’s @chakafattah.