After nearly four years of legal proceedings, Maj. Nidal Hasan was found guilty of premeditated murder for the mass shooting at Fort Hood on Nov. 5, 2009.
Political leaders are now speaking out on what this verdict means for a community overshadowed by the tragedy, which left 13 people dead and 32 wounded.
U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said people must turn their attention to ensuring that victims and surviving family members of the shooting receive the honors they would have had if the attack had happened in combat. He also announced he is currently drafting legislation that would make the Fort Hood victims and their families eligible for all the honors and benefits available to their comrades serving in overseas combat zones.
"The victims and families have had to wait for far too long for today’s decision, but I hope they can take some relief in today’s outcome as they and the entire Fort Hood community continue to grieve," he said. "Fort Hood has long been a source of pride for all Texans, and the heroes who put themselves in harm’s way on that fateful day deserve to be recognized for their sacrifice whether overseas or at home."
Fellow Republican U.S. Senator Ted Cruz expressed similar sentiments.
"I hope and pray this verdict will bring some peace to Nidal Hasan's victims and their families," he said in a statement. "But if we ever hope to defeat the ongoing threat from radical Islamism, we need to start by calling this terrorist attack on our Armed Forces by its name. Hiding behind 'workplace violence' and excluding evidence on Hasan's pursuit of jihad will not make terrorism go away or properly honor the American heroes who were slain at Fort Hood on Nov. 5, 2009."
Texas Gov. Rick Perry described Hasan's actions that day as "cowardly" and "a deliberate act of terror against our country."
"This guilty verdict affirms we are a nation of laws, honors the victims of this heinous act, and proves that, even in the face of unspeakable tragedy, we will never waver from the core principles for which they gave their lives: freedom, liberty and democracy," Perry said in a statement.
U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock said in a statement he was not surprised to hear of Hasan's guilty verdict.
"Having been a trial judge for 20 years, I made the decision to refrain from commenting, so that I would not taint the trial," he said. "I have been keeping up with the trial and believe the judge did a great job of protecting the constitutional integrity of this trial, ensuring a guilty verdict.
"We must now wait and see what Maj. Hasan’s sentence will be. I hope an appropriate sentence will be handed down by the court, keeping Maj. Hasan from becoming a martyr for his cause," Carter said.
Just as Cornyn said, Carter has also been working to get combat-related benefits to the families and victims of the shooting.
Contact Rose L. Thayer at email@example.com or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHmilitary.