Nidal Hasan (Bell County Sheriff's Office handout/Reuters)
Soldiers wounded in the Fort Hood shooting spree in November 2009 have a new problem on their hands: getting the shooting's classification changed from "workplace violence" to "combat related."
As reported by Dallas-Fort Worth's NBC 5 Investigates, the injured soldiers are struggling to pay their bills. Because the government doesn't classify the shooting as an act of combat or terror, those injured don't receive additional pay or Purple Hearts.
Receiving the "pay and medical benefits earned by those wounded in combat" would be a big help to these soldiers and their families, reports NBC 5.
Adding to the soldiers' concerns: Major Nidal Hasan, the man charged in the shootings, continues to be paid his salary and has earned more than $278,000 since the shooting, which resulted in 13 deaths and 32 injuries.
The news team reported that the Department of Defense confirmed that Hasan has continued to receive his salary because he has not yet been proved guilty. The salary rule is documented in the Uniform Code of Military Justice. (That Hasan would still receive his pay was first reported in 2011.)
NBC 5 spoke with Retired Army Spc. Logan Burnett and his wife, Torey Burnett, about the "workplace violence" designation. At the time of the shooting, the reservist was about to deploy to Iraq. He was shot three times by the gunman.
"Sickens me. Absolutely sickens me. Workplace violence? I don't even know if I have the words to say," said Burnett.
"They don't need to be treated like this. They don't need to sit and fight every day for this benefit or that,” said Torey Burnett.
As that fight continues, Burnett was stunned to see a letter detailing the more $278,000 Hasan has been paid since his arrest. NBC 5 Investigates received the letter from the Department of Defense in response to a request under the Freedom of Information Act.
"There have been times when my wife and I cannot afford groceries. We cannot afford gas in our car,” Burnett said. “Literally, times where we ate Ramen noodles for weeks on end. [That Hasan is still earning a paycheck] makes me sick to my stomach,” said Burnett.
Opening arguments for the trial are expected to begin on July 1. Hasan faces the death penalty. He was shot during the attack and is paralyzed from the chest down.
- Crime & Justice