Fort Hood Victims Get Purple Hearts At Last

Why there's still no closure for survivors of “workplace violence” at Fort Hood.

More than five years after U.S. Army major Nidal Hasan gunned down 13 soldiers and wounded more than 30 others at Fort Hood, Texas, victims finally received Purple Heart medals in an April 10 ceremony at the base. The long delayed award of these medals, however, does not bring closure to this issue.

Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, had been emailing terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki about the prospect of killing infidel American soldiers, and the “Soldier of Allah,” as he called himself, did everything but take out an ad on the Super Bowl to announce his jihadist intentions. Government agents were aware of his communications but did nothing to stop him.

President Barack Obama’s first response to Hasan’s mass murder was brief, low key, and failed to ascribe any responsibility to Islamic terrorism. “We cannot fully know what leads a man to do such a thing,” the president said. Such breathtaking denial soon became official policy. The Obama administration’s Department of Defense issued Protecting the Force: Lessons from Fort Hood, which contains not a single reference to jihad or jihadists. Its only mention of “Islamic” is an endnote reference to “Countering Violent Islamic Extremism,” a 2007 FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin.

The Fort Hood attack claimed more than twice as many victims as the first attack on the World Trade Center in 1993. It was the worst mass murder at a U.S. Army facility and Hasan yelled “Allahu Akbar” as he gunned down unarmed soldiers, yet the Obama administration preferred to call it “workplace violence.” The highest ranking soldier Nidal Hasan killed was a woman, Lt. Col. Juanita Warman, a psychiatric nurse practitioner who had volunteered for duty in Iraq. Feminist groups did not issue statements denouncing the “workplace violence” designation. Hasan had used privately purchased handguns but his actions failed even to earn the designation of “gun violence.” Victims included African Americans, Hispanics and non-Muslims, but Hasan’s attack was not designated a hate crime.

Rudy Giuliani, major of New York during the 9/11 attacks, told the House Homeland Security Committee that “The elevation of political correctness over sound investigative judgment certainly explains the failure to identify Maj. Hasan as a terrorist.” Further, “That political correctness has been extended so far that the current administration describes his act as ‘workplace violence.’ This isn’t just preposterous. What we fail to realize is, this is dangerous.”

While Nidal Hasan retained his rank and continued to receive his salary, those who survived his attack had trouble getting treatment for their injuries. Hasan shot the unarmed Sergeant Alonzo Lunsford once in the head and six times in the body. Lunsford played dead and then fled the building but Hasan chased him down and shot him in the back. Lunsford told reporters that the Army refused to cover an operation to remove the bullet, and docked his pay when he was undergoing treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. “We don’t get passes the way Major Hasan got passes,” Lunsford told the New York Times. “Each one of us has gotten a raw deal somewhere down the line.”

Sergeant Shawn Manning, a veteran of two deployments in Iraq, took six shots from Nidal Hasan, including one in the chest. After the Purple Hearts ceremony, Manning told Fox News that the army has denied him benefits and maintains that his injuries are not combat related. “It sounds like there’s going to be some more fighting ahead of us with the Army, at least in regards to benefits. I think it’s almost unheard of for someone to receive the Purple Heart but not have their injuries classified as combat-related. The fact that you have an Al Qaeda-inspired terrorist attack that we were shot in and that’s not combat related, I think is just ridiculous.”

Texas senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz spoke out on the need for Fort Hood victims to get the benefits and treatment they need. President Obama, who never served in the military, was not present at the April 10 Fort Hood ceremony. The president issued no order changing the “workplace violence” designation to terrorism. Earlier this year he invoked the crusades and told those who complain about Islamic atrocities to get off their high horse.

Nidal Hasan, meanwhile, was convicted in 2013 and currently resides on death row at Leavenworth, with no sign of remorse. In 2014 he petitioned Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, head of the Islamic State, formally requesting to be a made a citizen, adding, “It would be an honor for any believer to be an obedient citizen soldier to a people and its leader who don’t compromise the religion of All-Mighty Allah to get along with the disbelievers.”

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