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Local veterans join fight for benefits and medals for Fort Hood victims

By Lacy Hilliard
Recently, details surrounding Specialist Frederick Greene’s actions during the Fort Hood massacre have begun to surface. Last week, The Tomahawk reported that the wounds SPC Greene suffered during the attack has led investigators to believe that Greene attempted to apprehend Nidal Hasan as he took the lives of 13 people on November 5, 2009. Greene succumbed to his wounds, but died a hero in the eyes of his countrymen and hometown.
For those that knew SPC Greene personally, this revelation came as no surprise. A Mountain City native, those that knew Greene personally speak highly of his character and his natural kindness toward his fellow man. However, what has come as a surprise to many is the fact that under current military law, Greene’s family is not entitled to any benefits that they would typically receive had Greene been killed in a designated combat zone. Because the Fort Hood attack did not occur in a designated military combat zone, Specialist Greene is also not entitled to any posthumous medals of honor or official recognitions of his reported bravery.
Specialist Greene’s lack of eligibility for Military Death Benefits has inspired several local veterans to turn lobbyist in order to garner support for not just the family of SPC Greene, but the families of all those killed in the Fort Hood attack. Thirty year retired Air Force veteran and leader of the Johnson County Honor Guard, Dick Dion is one local veteran attempting to right what he feels is an injustice to those killed at Fort Hood. Dion said of the attempt to rally lawmakers to alter current Military Death Benefit policy, “This is not a political issue. It’s about seeing that our military personnel and their families are treated with respect. There’s no difference in what Fred Greene did in trying to quell the violence, without a weapon, than what soldiers do every day in a combat zone in Afghanistan.”
Congressman Phil Roe was contacted for comment about this story and he offered the following quote. “Freddie Greene was a true American patriot that gave his life for his country. His sacrifice is no smaller than the men and women who died in combat, which is why I support Representative John Carter’s bill, the Fort Hood Victims and Families Benefits Protection Act. The bill would ensure any member of the military killed or wounded in the Fort Hood attack would receive the same treatment as the military victims of the September 11th terrorist attacks. These soldiers and their families have made a huge sacrifice for this country, and this bill would ensure they receive the maximum level of benefits available, identical to those killed in combat zones. This bill would also allow for posthumous service medals to be awarded for bravery and heroism in the line of duty.”
The Fort Hood Victims and Families Benefits Protection Act states that “(1) any member of the Armed Forces who was killed or wounded in the attack at Fort Hood, Texas, on November 5, 2009, and the family members of those victims, should receive the same treatment and benefits as the victims and families of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States; and (2) such members and families have made tremendous sacrifices, and the United States should provide them with the maximum level of benefits available, identical to that available to those killed or wounded in an overseas combat zone such as Iraq or Afghanistan.” Though Congressman Roe has expressed his support for the bill, which was introduced on March 6, 2013, it has yet to even make it past the house.
Johnson County residents and veterans like Dick Dion, Robert Hensley and Ralph Hutto, are committed to this cause and plan to continue to do what they can to ensure that the Fort Hood Victims and Families Benefits Protection Act is signed into law. For residents that stand on the side of Specialist Greene in this fight, Dion suggests writing your Congressman and speaking to local representatives like Timothy Hill and Lt. Governor Ramsey.
Specialist Greene will be honored and remembered locally on Thursday, August 29 as the Town of Mountain City dedicates the bridge at the corner of Highway 421 and Highway 67 to his name.