My last duty assignment in the Army was Ft. Hood Texas – I’m looking forward to getting my motorcycle out here and heading down to Texas Hill Country for a visit to Ft. Hood. I have fond memories of being stationed there and commanding the 2d Battalion, 20th Field Artillery (MLRS) “Deep Strike”, 4th Infantry Division. I watched our girls grow and it was there that little Austen learned to ride a bike without training wheels. And I remember the tears and hugs when I redeployed back from Iraq. I also remember the fateful day in November 2009 when a traitor dressed in the uniform of our U.S. Army executed a vicious Islamic jihadist attack on Ft. Hood. Nidal Hasan is right up there with Benedict Arnold – or worse.
We’ve fought for years to have those who lost their lives and the survivors of the attack recognized as having been part of a 21st century battlefield that does not have borders and boundaries. Finally, yesterday, those Soldiers and families got just a little closure.
As reported by Foxnews.com, “Victims of the 2009 Fort Hood terror attack finally received their long-delayed honor on Friday at a Purple Heart ceremony in Texas — though they may have to keep fighting to get military benefits. Nearly 50 survivors lined up at the ceremony held at Fort Hood on Friday, and all were given either a Purple Heart or Defense of Freedom medal for their injuries. The ceremony was years in the making, as the U.S. government initially described the attack as mere workplace violence, and not terrorism. But the medal, while long-sought, may be symbolic. At least one survivor told Fox News ahead of the ceremony that the Army has so far denied him any benefits, and his fellow servicemembers are likely in for a similar struggle. “It sounds like there’s going to be some more fighting ahead of us with the Army, at least in regards to benefits,” retired Staff Sgt. Shawn Manning, who was shot six times by Maj. Nidal Hasan, told Fox News on Friday. He explained the Army is not defining the injuries as combat-related.”
I find it unconscionable that we have Army leadership taking orders from a judge saying we must refer to another traitor, Bradley Manning, as Ms, Chelsea, and provide hormonal treatments on the taxpayer dollar for this Soldier.
But the same Army leadership is denying benefits to a Soldier who took six bullets from an Islamic jihadist — nothing about that makes sense. And it’s the same Army leadership that did everything it could to stall the investigation of another traitor — deserter — Bowe Bergdahl, while we have Clint Lorance, a young warrior who faced the enemy serving 20 years in Ft. Leavenworth prison, — the same place where Nidal Hasan is incarcerated.
All of this irony drives me insane and it’s probably why two of the original victims have committed suicide because they just couldn’t understand how they could be so utterly disrespected.
“I think it’s almost unheard of for someone to receive the Purple Heart but not have their injuries classified as combat-related,” Manning said. Just this February, the Army, under heavy political pressure by Texas lawmakers, cleared the way for the military and civilian distinctions after the shooting was declared an act of international terrorism and not workplace violence” — just this February!
Here is what the “letter of the law” says, “Section 571 of the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act addresses both the awarding of the Purple Heart to service members killed or wounded in attacks inspired or motivated by foreign terrorist organizations and the Defense of Freedom Medal for those members and civilians killed or wounded during the Fort Hood attack on 5 November 20009,” the April 6 letter states. “Nowhere in the act, however, does it offer combat benefits for service members permanently disabled in attacks inspired or motivated by foreign terrorist organizations. Although subsequent legislation and guidance may change, currently, the Board has no authority to award V1/V3 (service related) designation to soldiers disabled during the Fort Hood attack.”
What does this mean specifically in the case of SSG Shawn Manning? “SSG Manning said the physical evaluation board’s decision means, on a practical level, his family will lose back pay, and $800 a month in benefits, adding he believes other Fort Hood survivors will face the same treatment.”
What is the Army’s response? “Army spokeswoman Cynthia O. Smith told Fox News in a statement, “All recipients of the Purple Heart Medal under section 571 of the NDAA 2015 will receive the benefits to which they are legally entitled. In the case at issue, no final decision has been rendered, and the Soldier will have a full opportunity to present evidence at a formal hearing.” Now that ladies and gents is what I call FUBAR!
Let me ask a simple question, where was the Commander-in-Chief, President Barack Obama? I suppose hanging out in Jamaica and calling Cuban President Raul Castro was far more important. And since Obama has stated that he has a pen and a phone — how about an executive order to grant these victims and survivor families their benefits?
After all, if that pen works so well to sign an illegal and unconstitutional order on immigration, what is keeping President Obama from doing so for these warriors who were so viciously attacked? As a matter of fact, since he’s so prone to commuting sentences for drug offenders, why can’t he do the same for Army 1LT Clint Lorance?
And for more irony, consider that yesterday as these Soldiers, Department of the Army civilians, and family members were receiving their long overdue medals, another Islamic jihadist was arrested in a foiled terrorist plot to attack Ft. Riley, (where I served as a young Captain). Ahh, no big deal for President Obama, after all those mean ol’ Christians are saying not-so-nice things about him.
As we are entering the 2016 presidential campaign season I am asking you all to look at these candidates and ponder, who is deserving of the title, not of president, but of commander-in-chief? We are going to need one, the current one was AWOL yesterday at Ft. Hood. And we all know what you’re designated if AWOL for more than 30 days — Susan Rice and liberal progressives believe it is honorable and a distinction deserving of a Rose Garden ceremony — way wrong answer. But it was very telling that there was no Obama at Ft. Hood to look into the eyes of those he’s left on the battlefield.