FORT HOOD -- It’s been nearly three years since the Fort Hood shootings. 13 died that day, and 32 others were injured.
The attack was and still is labeled "workplace violence," despite the suspect’s ties to al Qaeda. That determination hasn’t set well with survivors or victims’ families. And Thursday morning, fed up and frustrated, the coalition of 160 victims and family members released a video.
The video cuts between survivors first telling how the day began and why they were in the process center at the Killeen, Texas, post.
Civilian police officer Kimberly Munley said it was 1 p.m. when she first heard the call.
“It was approximately 1300 hours," she said. "I was washing my patrol car and starting to get ready for my end of shift when I got a call from dispatch that shots had been fired.”
Her nightmare was about to begin. For the soldiers inside it already had.
In the 14-minute video, soldiers describe the moment Major Nidal Hasan walked in, yelling “Allah Akbar” (“God is Great”).
Combat Medic Staff Sergeant Alonzo Lunsford was hit with five rounds, including one that blinded his left eye. He remembers seeing the laser cross his face before feeling the bullet hit. Lunsford’s undergone three years of surgeries and rehabilitation. For him the distinction between workplace violence and terrorism is about "doing what’s right."
An act of terrorism label would mean the shootings happened in a combat zone, making those killed or injured eligible for a Purple Heart medal, and medical benefits similar to what soldiers injured overseas would receive.
“None of us have been awarded the Purple Heart," Lunsford said. "When we raise our right hand, we swear to defend everything foreign and domestic. This was domestic. This man was in our uniform, and he was performing his jihad.”
Civilian Police Officer Kimberly Munley is also featured in the video. She would not be eligible for additional benefits, but said she’s standing up for other survivors and victims. She points out what the distinction means for soldiers who are now out of the Army due to medical reasons, saying “They’re severance pay is half of what it could be.”
The Coalition 160 started last year. Two Texas lawmakers are backing the group.
Earlier this month, Congressmen John Carter and Michael McCaul wrote a letter to both the Secretary of Defense and Secretary of the Army. In it they say, “it’s clear to us that if it were not for what appears to have been political correctness, the 13 Americans killed in this attack would still be with us and the over 30 others wounded would not still be suffering from long-term disabilities.”
The shooting was first labeled "workplace violence," citing insufficient evidence of Hasan’s link to terrorism. The phrasing came under fire in 2011, when the William Webster Commission released its report using the general term. The FBI had found e-mails between Hasan and known terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki in 2008, but those e-mails were never followed up on.
Hasan is facing the death penalty. He’s one step closer to trial. Thursday, a military appeals court ruled that Hasan’s beard can be shaved. He’s been awaiting trial in a Bell County jail. He’s paralyzed from the waist down.
SSGT Alonzo Lunsford is now with the Wounded Warrior Unit. He underwent two surgeries earlier this month, and said he’s looking forward to facing Hasan in court. Kimberly Munley starts her first full time job since the attack this November 5.