Fort Hood shooting victims seek added benefits

Associated Press Modified: October 19, 2012 at 6:01 pm •  Published: October 19, 2012
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FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Nearly three years after the Fort Hood shooting, a group of soldiers and their families is pressing the Department of Defense to make victims of the rampage eligible for the Purple Heart and other benefits.

About 160 people affected by the Nov. 5, 2009, shooting released a video this week describing the attack on the sprawling Texas Army post.

"The victims are being forgotten and it's frustrating," Kimberly Munley, one of the first two officers who arrived at the shooting scene, told The Associated Press.

Maj. Nidal Hasan, an American-born Muslim who officials believe was inspired by a radical Islamic cleric, faces the death penalty if convicted of 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder in the attack.

While several government reports have described the rampage as an act of terrorism, soldiers and their relatives say the only way Fort Hood victims and their families will get the same benefits as troops killed or injured in combat is if the defense secretary specifically designates the shooting a "terrorist attack."

Pentagon press secretary George Little said Friday that the Department of Defense "will not, at this time, further characterize" the shooting because it is committed to the integrity of the ongoing court-martial proceedings against Hasan. There are concerns that formally changing the designation could affect the legal proceedings.

Little said survivors of the shooting are "eligible for the same medical benefits as any service member."

Staff Sgt. Shawn Manning, who was shot six times that day, said his injuries prevented him from continuing to serve. But he won't receive the same benefits as those severely wounded on the battlefield because an Army medical evaluation board didn't deem his injuries to be combat-related, he said.

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