Accused Fort Hood Shooter Paid $278,000 While Awaiting Trial
Injured soldier outraged suspected shooter receives salary while his family financially struggles in recovery
Scott Friedman, NBC 5 Investigates
The Department of Defense confirms to NBC 5 Investigates that accused Fort Hood shooter Major Nidal Hasan has been paid more than $278,000 since the Nov. 5, 2009 shooting that left 13 dead 32 injured.
The Department of Defense confirms to NBC 5 Investigates that accused Fort Hood shooter Major Nidal Hasan has now been paid more than $278,000 since the Nov. 5, 2009 shooting that left 13 dead 32 injured. The Army said under the Military Code of Justice, Hasan’s salary cannot be suspended unless he is proven guilty.
If Hasan had been a civilian defense department employee, NBC 5 Investigates has learned, the Army could have suspended his pay after just seven days.
Personnel rules for most civilian government workers allow for "indefinite suspensions" in cases "when the agency has reasonable cause to believe that the employee has committed a crime for which a sentence of imprisonment may be imposed."
Meanwhile, more than three years later soldiers wounded in the mass shooting are fighting to receive the same pay and medical benefits given to those wounded in combat.
Retired Army Spc. Logan Burnett, a reservist who, in 2009, was soon to be deployed to Iraq, was shot three times when a gunman opened fire inside the Army Deployment Center.
“I honestly thought I was going to die in that building,” said Burnett. “Just blood everywhere and then the thought of -- that's my blood everywhere.”
Burnett nearly died. He's had more than a dozen surgeries since the shooting, and says post-traumatic stress still keeps him up at night.
Burnett is now fighting a new battle; only this one is against the U.S. Army.
The Army has not classified the wounds of the Ft. Hood victims as “combat related” and declines to label the shooting a “terrorist attack”,
The “combat related” designation is an important one, for without it Burnett and other shooting victims are not given combat-related pay, they are not eligible for Purple Heart retirement or medical benefits given to other soldiers wounded either at war or during the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the Pentagon.
As a result, Burnett, his wife Torey, and the families of other Fort Hood victims miss out on thousands of dollars of potential benefits and pay every year.
To Burnett the shooting felt like combat.
“You take three rounds and lose five good friends and watch seven other people get killed in front of you. Do you have another term that we can classify that as?” asked Burnett.
The Army has categorized the shooting as a case of “workplace violence.”
“Sickens me. Absolutely sickens me. Workplace violence? I don't even know if I have the words to say,” said Burnett.
"They don't need to be treated like this. They don't need to sit and fight every day for this benefit or that,” said Torey Burnett.
As that fight continues, Burnett was stunned to see a letter detailing the more $278,000 Hasan has been paid since his arrest. NBC 5 Investigates received the letter from the Department of Defense in response to a request under the Freedom of Information Act.
"There have been times when my wife and I cannot afford groceries. We cannot afford gas in our car,” Burnett said. “Literally, times where we ate Ramen noodles for weeks on end. This [that Hasan is still earning a paycheck] makes me sick to my stomach,” said Burnett.