New legislation to be filed to honor, support victims of Ft. Hoo - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

New legislation to be filed to honor, support victims of Ft. Hood shooting

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New legislation will be filed to honor and provide more support for the victims of the 2009 Fort Hood shooting. The effort includes changing the way the federal government as currently classified the incident.

Congressmen John Carter and Roger Williams, as well as Texas U.S. Senator John Cornyn returned to Killeen Monday promising to right a wrong.

"The wheels of justice have turned slowly, too slowly for most of us," said Senator Cornyn.

The three admit they had intentionally kept silent the past 4 years about the man who was responsible for taking 13 lives on post.

"We've all been reluctant to do anything up to this point that would possibly benefit Maj. Hasan's defense," said Senator Cornyn.

Last month a military court convicted and sentenced Major Nidal Hasan to death for the 2009 attack. During a memorial service, shortly after the shooting, President Obama said those who died were victims of a war. But the Department of Defense has classified the shooting as a case of workplace violence. Monday morning, the Republicans announced legislation will be filed to re-classify the attack as an Act of Terrorism.

"This administrations workplace violence designation clearly favors political correctness over truth and justice," said Congressman Williams.

The "Honoring the Fort Hood Heroes Act" would also make the military victims of the 2009 shooting eligible for a Purple Heart. Civilians would receive the Defense of Freedom award. For the survivors and the families of those who were killed the designations go beyond medals. According to Keely Cahill Vanacker, who lost her father, it means increased benefits.

"We are not here today for us, we are here today for those soldiers to get that combat status, to get those combat benefits that medial help that they need, that's why we are here today," said Cahill Vanacker.

While the legislation begins the political process in Congress work continues on an effort to build a memorial in Killeen to the fallen. The project site is located near a Korean War memorial on the grounds of the local civic center. Under a pavilion there will be a circle of 13 black granite columns. They represent those who died.

"It's not a military acknowledgement it's a human acknowledgment of who these people were," said Congressman John Carter.

Bronze sculptures of favorite items from each person will be place atop each column. The metal figures were forged in the shapes of cars, games, books, even a cartoon character shedding a lone tear-drop.

"If you ask a family member of someone who lost, anyone, they will always tell you that they just don't want you to forget who their loved one was," said Leila Hunt Willingham who lost her brother Specialist Jason Hunt.

Funds are still being collected for the memorial. The goal is to bring the Heroes Act up for a vote later this fall.

After the announcement, three Republicans were also asked about President Obama's pitch to get congressional blessings for a strike against Syria.

"It's important for the president to not only make the case to congress and seek an authorization for these of military force, it's important for him to make the case to the American people, and I haven't heard that case made yet," said U.S. Senator John Cornyn.

As a former District Court Judge, Congressman John Carter said he wants to check and double check the facts.

"this is a potential explosive situation, over there, and I think we all as members of congress owe a duty to the American people to get all of the information and find out where the intelligence comes from because quite honestly we've had some bad situations in the past on intelligence and we need to make sure our intelligence is accurate and that we trust the evidence that's presented to us," said Rep. Carter.

Congressman Roger Williams wants to know more about the plan, long term.

"There's questions we need to have answered quite frankly that have not been answered yet, what is the true meaning of the mission what's the exit strategy and what's the mission going to cost," said Williams.

That cost is not just in dollars, for the Congressmen it also includes the lives of U.S. military personnel who could be put at risk.

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