Lawmakers to file bill to give benefits for Ft. Hood victims

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by JESSICA VESS

KVUE News Austin

Posted on September 2, 2013 at 11:36 AM

KILLEEN, Texas -- A group of lawmakers is filing new legislation this week to get benefits for the victims of the Fort Hood shooting.

Senator John Cornyn and congressmen John Carter and Roger Williams are presenting a bill called the Honoring the Fort Hood Heroes Act. It would give both military and civilian victims the same status that was given to the victims of the September 11 attacks.

The fight for those rights has been building over the past year; 160 victims and their families released a 14-minute video last year asking for help.

To get more benefits, the government must agree to change the status of the shooting. It's currently labeled as workplace violence, not an act of terror. 

"We need the VA, the American people, our Congress, our Senate and our government as a whole to help us. The first two weeks after Dad died, people kept asking, 'What can we do?' The answer now is very simple. 'Do your job,'” said Kerry Cahill whose father died in the Fort Hood shooting.

Some lawmakers have argued that changing the status of the shooting could have compromised the case against shooter Nidal Hasan. They also said there was not enough evidence to link Hasan to terrorism. However, in testimony during his trial, victims said Hasan made his intention obvious. They say he yelled out “Allah akbar” as the gunfire erupted.

"This man was in our uniform, and he was performing his jihad,” said Sgt. Alonzo Lunsford who suffered injuries in the shooting. “That man knew what he was doing, and by the look on his face the day of the shooting, he definitely knew what he was doing.”

A change in the label of the shooting could make victims eligible for the Purple Heart award or the civilian equivalent. The bill will be filed this week.

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