Government Turned Its Back on Nidal Hasan's Casualties

By Times-News (Twin Falls, ID) September 23, 2013 12:20 pm

The U.S. government got its death sentence. But Maj. Nidal Hasan's victims still wait for justice.
When Hasan pumped six rounds into Shawn Manning on Nov. 5, 2009, the Twin Falls native, 13 personnel killed and 31 others wounded by the zealot's bullets at Fort Hood were in a war zone.
If a U.S. Army major yelling "Allahu Akbar" before spraying bullets into a crowd of his peers doesn't fit the mold cast by President Bush's war on radical Islam, we don't know what does.
But Manning, then a staff sergeant in the Army reserves, says the families of the slain and the others wounded, have spent four years fighting for benefits rightly owed to them.
The Pentagon has turned its back on its own.
A Times-News request for comment from the U.S. Department of Defense went unreturned last week. But during Hasan's military murder trial, which ended last month with a death sentence, a Pentagon spokesman said military attorneys had to treat the incident as "workplace violence" in order to bring Hasan to military justice.
Pentagon prosecutors were focused on a conviction, one that may have been legally stalled or complicated had Hasan been labeled an enemy combatant or terrorist. Calling Hasan a terrorist would have biased the trial, prosecutors worried.
Soldiers wounded in war, and the families of those killed, are entitled to benefits, cash aimed at rewarding service and helping offset the loss of income. College scholarships are available to the survivors, and they get first crack at government jobs.
Those left in the wake of Hasan's shooting spree have gotten little to nothing. Again, it's been four years.
No such reward is available to Hasan's victims or their families because the government doesn't consider the massacre to be war-related. These service members again are being victimized, this time by the very government that's supposed to represent them.
Manning tells us his injuries cost him $2,000 a month in civilian pay for three years. One survivor recently committed suicide, and Hasan robbed several families of their primary breadwinners.
Families of the victims and survivors have filed a class-action lawsuit. They rightfully want what's owed to them.
But the very fact that civil action is necessary in this case is enough to disgust us.
U.S.Rep. John Carter, R-Texas, is pushing legislation that would give victims and their families the same benefits as those "who have been killed or wounded in a combat zone overseas," the bill reads. It correctly defines Hasan as a terrorist.
"He's been convicted, he's been sentenced," Carter said Thursday. "There's no reason not to go forward."
The bill has sat in the House Armed Services Committee for weeks, and Washington observers give it little chance of survival. Carter gives his bill far better odds.
Unless Congress does the right thing, Hasan's victim's will be left out in the cold. They'll be destined to persistent financial strain, on top of the emotional and physical baggage they'll carry for the rest of their lives.
Hasan's victims, and those of Washington Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis, weren't in Iraq or Afghanistan when the guns started blazing.
But the War on Terror isn't a traditional conflict. It's a battle against an ancient military tactic now being employed by a radical few.
To think such a war can be neatly fought within defined borders and historical definitions lacks perspective. It's unnuanced, dated and daft.
Hasan brought the battle to Texas, and those who suffer because of it must get what's owed to them.
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