Less than a week after Nidal Hasan was sentenced to death, U.S. lawmakers unveil a new bill to help victims of the 2009 Fort Hood shooting and their families get more benefits and recognition.
Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and Congressmen John Carter (R-TX 31) and Roger Williams (R-TX 25) introduced the "Honoring the Fort Hood Heroes Act" during a press conference at the Killeen Civic Center Monday.
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Chris Royal is one of the heroes it would help.
He was shot twice in the back by convicted Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan and struggles with PTSD.
"The best way that I can describe it is just shattered glass, and you put it back together the best you can but however it's still shattered glass, and that's just what it is," Chris said.
As it stands, his wounds aren't considered combat related, but the proposed law would change that.
"Now that I'm retiring, the Purple Heart would definitely help me on the outside as far as job opportunities," said Chris.
Civilians would get The Secretary of Defense Medal for the Defense of Freedom, and families and the wounded would get benefits associated with a combat zone, like hostile fire pay and combat-related disability.
SPC Jason Hunt's grieving sister, Leila Hunt-Willingham stood next to the lawmakers Monday, proclaiming her support for the proposed law.
"Nothing can bring my brother back nor the others killed that day, but we must insist on taking care of the people who are affected," Leila said.
Right now families are even being denied additional life insurance benefits.
"This is wrong, and it requires our immediate attention," Senator Cornyn said.
Many say labeling the attack as terrorism is a long overdue acknowledgement, especially after Hasan said in open court that he switched sides in the war on terror and set out to kill American troops.
"It's like he's waving a red flag to show his attack was a terrorist attack," said Representative Williams.
Cornyn, Carter and Williams say it's hard proof that will garner bipartisan support in Washington.
"Without them, we don't have a voice, so we just hope that it's carried out this time, and we can come to a great end, so that we can get all the help and the benefits that we so deserve," Chris said.
The bill had to wait nearly four years, because there were concerns it would help Hasan achieve an appeal.
It's authors say it will compensate victims and families for the all the time they've been denied benefits.
Reporter: Sophia Stamas firstname.lastname@example.org
Photographer: Chris Buford
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