President Barack Obama, right, with Directorate of Emergency Services, Ft. Hood Police Dept. , Sgt. Kimberly Munley center, after delivering remarks at a ceremony honoring the Top Cops award winners in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Friday, May 14, 2010. (Photo: AP)
Victims of the Fort Hood attack at a U.S. military installation in Texas in 2009 were given what ABC describes as a "hero's welcome" at the State of the Union three years ago. After initial concern that the victims of the tragedy would be overlooked -- President Obama opened his first speech after the attack with a "shout out" to "Dr. Joe Medicine Crow" -- many were relieved that the White House appeared to be treating the issue with appropriate sobriety.
But despite repeated assurances that they would be adequately taken care of, some of the victims are now saying that, because the attack has been classified as "workplace violence" rather than an act of terrorism, they're being denied care and compensation they deserve.
Major Nidal Hasan is accused of killing thirteen people, including a pregnant woman, and shooting 32 others during his November rampage. Witnesses say he was yelling "Allahu akbar" and there is strong evidence he was in contact with al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki.
This undated file photo provided by the Bell County Sheriff's Department via The Temple Daily Telegram shows Nidal Hasan, the Army psychiatrist charged in the deadly 2009 Fort Hood shooting rampage. (Photo: AP)
ABC News has more from the victims:
"Betrayed is a good word," former Sgt. Munley told ABC News in a tearful interview to be broadcast tonight on "World News with Diane Sawyer" and "Nightline."
"Not to the least little bit have the victims been taken care of," she said. "In fact they've been neglected."
Munley, since laid off from her job with the base's civilian police force, was shot three times as she and her partner, Sgt. Mark Todd, confronted Hasan...
As Munley lay wounded, Todd fired the five bullets credited with bringing Hasan down.
Munley and dozens of other victims have now filed a lawsuit against the military alleging the "workplace violence" designation means the Fort Hood victims are receiving lower priority access to medical care as veterans, and a loss of financial benefits available to those who injuries are classified as "combat related."
Some of the victims "had to find civilian doctors to get proper medical treatment" and the military has not assigned liaison officers to help them coordinate their recovery, said the group's lawyer, Reed Rubinstein.
"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," said Rubinstein. "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." [Emphasis added
Part of ABC's report includes never before seen footage from the aftermath of the attack. The interview is interspersed with the video of the horrifying scene (extreme content warning):
The White House and the Army have not commented on the matter, but a man who was shot 6 times in the attack says he can predict their reaction.
"These guys play stupid every time they're asked a question about it, they pretend like they have no clue," Shawn Manning remarked. "It was no different than an insurgent in Iraq or Afghanistan trying to kill us."
Manning served two tours in Iraq but had to retire after being shot 6 times at Fort Hood. His injuries were originally classified as "combat related," ABC reports, but authorities later overruled the finding, costing him $70,000 in benefits.
"Basically, they're treating us like I was downtown and I got hit by a car," he explained.
Alonzo Lunsford, shot seven times and blinded in one eye, called the government's treatment a "slap in the face" for him, and for "all 32 that wore the uniform that day."
The ABC article concludes:
Former Sgt. Munley says she now believes the White House used her for political advantage in arranging for her to sit next to Michelle Obama during the President's State of the Union address in 2010.
Munley says she has no hesitation now speaking out against the President or taking part in the lawsuit, because she wants to help the others who were shot that day and continue to suffer.
"We got tired of being neglected. So this was our last resort and I'm not ashamed of it a bit," she said.
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