Former Sgt. Kimberly Munley, who helped stop the deadly shooting at Fort Hood in 2009, claims that the US government has neglected the surviving victims of the attack, leaving them without proper medical care in the aftermath of the shooting.
When 39-year-old US Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan opened fire at the Texas military base Fort Hood, he left 13 people dead and 32 wounded. Most of the wounded were service members, some of which were preparing to go to Afghanistan. But the gunshot wounds served as a setback for many, inflicting crippling disabilities that in some cases require years of treatment.
And the US government has largely abandoned the wounded soldiers, Sgt. Munley said in an interview with ABC News, which will be broadcast Wednesday night.
“Betrayed is a good word,” Munley said. “Not to the least little bit have the victims been taken care of. In fact they’ve been neglected.”
Including Munley herself.
The former sergeant came face to face with the shooter in an attempt to stop him, only to be shot three times. Her partner, Sgt. Mark Todd, eventually managed to shoot down Hasan. But after suffering three gunshot wounds and being laid off from her job with the base’s civilian police force, Munley feels abandoned.
The reason for the lack of medical care can partially be attributed to the military’s classification of the shooting as “workplace violence”. Hasan was initially found to have been in contact with al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki and was suspected of terrorism. But rather than consider the massacre a terrorist attack or a “combat related” incident, the military simply called it “workplace violence”.
Victims of workplace violence receive lower priority access to medical care than veterans – even if veterans acquired injuries less serious than the shooting victims. Victims of workplace violence are also ineligible for Purple Heart medals, which are awarded to service members who are wounded or killed while serving the US military.
Munley said President Obama has broken a promise that he made in 2009: after the deadly shooting, the president pledged to have the victims well taken care of. But lack of medical care has forced some of the victims to find civilian doctors to get proper treatment.
“There’s a substantial number of very serious, crippling cases of post-traumatic stress disorder exacerbated, frankly, by what the Army and the Defense Department did in this case,” Reed Rubinstein, a lawyer representing the wounded shooting victims, told ABC. “We have a couple of cases in which the soldiers’ command accused the soldiers of malingering, and would say things to them that Fort Hood really wasn’t so bad, it wasn’t combat.”
As a result of their medical abandonment, the shooting victims have filed a lawsuit against the US military, stating that the “workplace violence” designation of the shooting incident has prevented them from having the same access to medical care and financial benefits as veterans.
Shawn Manning, a former soldier, was shot six times at Fort Hood. His injuries forced him to retire.
“It was no different than an insurgent in Iraq or Afghanistan trying to kill us,” Manning said about the shooter. But he claims the “workplace violence” designation of his injuries cost him $70,000 in benefits that he would have received if they were designated as “combat related.”
Left without proper medical care and veterans’ benefits and denied Purple Hearts, the victims of the Fort Hood shooting are angry about the president’s false promises. With injuries that forced many of them to retire, the wounded victims hope that their lawsuit will draw attention to the designation that keeps them excluded from veterans’ benefits.