War on Terrorism

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Fort Hood Casualties to Receive Combatant Status Under New House Legislation

Army and civilian personnel who were wounded or killed in the shooting attack on Fort Hood would be granted the same legal status as combatant casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan, if bipartisan legislation introduced today by U.S. Representative John Carter (R-TX31) passes into law. Carter was joined by U.S. Representative Michael McCaul (R-TX10) for a news conference unveiling the bill in the House Radio-TV Gallery in the U.S. Capitol this afternoon. Watch the news conference here.

“Our Fort Hood casualties should receive the same benefits and recognition as other combat casualties,” says Carter, who represents the Fort Hood area in the House, “as this was a planned terror attack on U.S. military personnel. It should make no difference in our care for the wounded and the families of the slain whether it occurred on an Army base in Iraq, Afghanistan, or Texas.”

While many military and survivor benefits are the same regardless of the status of the casualty, combatant status allows military personnel to receive the Purple Heart, and civilians to receive the equivalent award, the Secretary of Defense Medal of Freedom. Combatant status would also guarantee that the beneficiaries of all military personnel who lost their lives in the attack would receive the maximum life insurance available, extended family housing privileges, and other benefits.

“This bill is not about investigations or assigning blame,” says Carter. “It is about taking care of our troops and their families first. That’s why we have such strong support from both sides of the aisle, and why we hope and expect this to move quickly.”

Over 30 House Members nearly evenly split between parties joined Carter as original co-sponsors on the legislation. Carter is Co-chairman of the House Army Caucus for the 111th Congress, and is Secretary of the House Republican Conference.

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