‘Ten years ago today, pure evil struck,’ area congressman says

(KWTX) “Ten years ago today, pure evil struck,” U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, said Tuesday as he marked the 10th anniversary of the Nov. 5, 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood that left 13 dead and more than 30 injured.

A soldier was comforted after the deadly rampage 10 years ago. (File)

“No matter how many days pass, the horrors of that day remain on my mind, and our community still carries the weight of grief for those we lost,” Carter said.

The attack was originally classified as workplace violence, but Carter, whose district includes much of the sprawling post, called it an act of terrorism and pushed for passage of legislation that would clear the way for authorization of the medals and benefits.

He, and U.S. Rep., Roger Williams, R-Austin, who was elected three years after the shooting to represent a district that includes a portion of the post, worked together to draft that legislation.

Williams, Tuesday, issued a statement in which he described the attack an “act of sheer evil on United States soil.”

“Over the last decade, we have seen extraordinary resilience and an outpouring of support from our community coming together to heal, and because of it, we have showed the world the very best of America,” Williams said.

“I am forever grateful for the heroic actions of those who brought an end to the violence, and my prayers are with the families of those taken far too soon.”

Early in the afternoon of Nov. 5, 2009 Nidal Malik Hasan fatally shot 13 people and injured more than 30 others, before Fort Hood civilian police Sergeant Mark Todd shot him, ending the rampage.

One of those killed was pregnant.

Her unborn baby who also died, never has been individually counted on the list of victims.

The shooting still ranks as the worst mass shooting at a military installation in U.S. history.

On Aug. 23, 2013, the court-martial jury found Hasan guilty of all 42 counts, and then five days later set his punishment at death.

The debate over whether the attack was workplace violence or domestic terrorism intensified after the verdict was delivered.

Carter and Williams authored a provision included in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015 that redefined what should be considered an attack by a foreign terrorist organization for the purposes of determining eligibility.

Hasan “was in communication with the foreign terrorist organization before the attack,” the Army ultimately determined, and as a result “his radicalization and subsequent acts could reasonably be considered to have been ‘inspired or motivated by the foreign terrorist organization.’”

Such incidents are now considered attacks by foreign terrorist organizations if the perpetrators were in communication with a foreign terrorist organization before the attack and that the attack was inspired or motivated by the organization, the Army said.

On April 16, 2015, then Secretary of the Army John McHugh announced that he had directed the Army to provide “all possible benefits” to the victims and families.

The announcement came less than a week after Purple Heart medals were presented to 36 soldiers and surviving family members during a ceremony at Fort Hood during a ceremony on post.

“In addition to the Purple Heart medal, there are certain other benefits for which soldiers receiving the Purple Heart are traditionally eligible,” McHugh wrote in a memorandum.

“I intend to ensure that the soldiers receiving the Purple Heart under the expanded criteria also receive all other related benefits for which they are eligible.”

The benefits that McHugh ordered include hostile fire pay for those Purple Heart recipients “killed, injured, or wounded” in the attack, as well as combat-related special compensation for retired soldiers whose disability is attributable to an injury for which they were awarded the Purple Heart, the Army said.

“After making the determination that the victims of the Fort Hood attack are now eligible for the Purple Heart, it seems only right and fair that these soldiers also receive the benefits it traditionally entails,” McHugh said.