A Texas congressman highlighted the ongoing legislative issues for the survivors of the 2009 Fort Hood shooting, inviting one of its most vocal survivors to Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.
“I (was) honored to have with me Sgt. Alonzo Lunsford, who was my guest for the State of the Union address. Sgt. Lunsford is a true patriot. He was shot multiple times during the Fort Hood attack and has since been a voice for the victims and served as the lead witness for the prosecution in the trial convicting the shooter of murder,” said U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, R-Austin, in a statement Tuesday night.
Another survivor of the shooting, Sgt. Matt Cooke, attended as a guest of North Carolina Congressman Robert Pittenger. The two were seated a few spaces apart, Lunsford said.
“I was excited,” Lunsford said of being a part of the historical event, but he also considered his visit a “tactical mission.”
While he was glad to hear President Barack Obama speak on matters he said are important to the nation, citing health care reform, immigration and shifts in minimum wage, issues from the shooting still linger in his mind.
“He touched on things about the military ... and said quite a few things I was impressed with, but he should have mentioned the Fort Hood terrorist attack, the Benghazi attack and also the Boston city bombing,” Lunsford said.
Unlike the Fort Hood shooting, the attack in Boston is considered a terrorist attack.
“That gives you a weird feeling. When they did the investigation on the brothers who orchestrated the bombing, it was the same situation with Maj. (Nidal) Hasan. The only difference is he was a U.S. soldier. But he was a terrorist,” Lunsford said.
The former Army psychiatrist was convicted last year of the 2009 shooting rampage.
Williams echoed Lunsford’s sentiments.
“Nobody but the president believes this was workplace violence,” the congressman said. “It was a terrorist attack.
But because of the president’s refusal to call it a terrorist attack, these men and women are denied the benefits, awards and compensation received by their counterparts in declared combat zones,” Williams said, referring to an ongoing fight to have the shootings reclassified by the government to a terrorist attack.
Williams and others are trying to pass the Honoring the Fort Hood Heroes Act — legislation that would reclassify the attack, and would pave the way for Purple Hearts and benefits to be awarded to the victims.
“In President Obama’s 2010 State of the Union address, he promised the victims and survivors of that horrible attack that he would take care of them ... sadly, the reality is that he has forgotten them,” Williams said.
Still, Lunsford saw his trip to D.C. as a positive step forward.
“Progress is in motion, but we need to ... not let it drag out anymore,” he said.