In 2009, Nidal Malik Hasan was arrested for allegedly killing 13 people and wounding 31 others during a shooting spree at Fort Hood, Texas. But despite sitting in jail for more than three years, he has collected a healthy sum from the U.S. military: $278,000.
How is that possible? The answer is that the Army can't stop paying his salary under the Military Code of Justice, according to NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth.
If Hasan was a civilian instead of a U.S. Army Medical Corps officer, his pay could have been suspended after seven days. Instead, the Army has to pay him until he is proven guilty.
Meanwhile, the victims of the shooting are fighting to maintain benefits because the shooting wasn't "combat related."
Retired Army Spc. Logan Burnett, who was shot three times during the attack, was livid after NBC 5 told him about Hasan's salary:
There have been times when my wife and I cannot afford groceries. We cannot afford gas in our car. Literally, times where we ate Ramen noodles for weeks on end. This makes me sick to my stomach. [NBC 5]
Unlike military personnel who were injured during the September 11 attacks on the Pentagon, those injured at Fort Hood aren't eligible for combat pay, Purple Hearts, or health benefits. Currently, the military classifies the shooting as a case of workplace violence.
In the House, Reps. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.), Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.) and Frank Wolf (R-Va.) are petitioning Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to change that:
Calling this terrorist attack 'workplace violence' is an insult to the victims and their families, and it denies them the benefits they deserve. The Department of Defense and the Army should be ashamed of the terrible care and service they've provided to these heroic American soldiers, and they should rectify this situation immediately by re-classifying their injuries and deaths as combat-related. [Thomas Rooney]
Hasan's trial will begin on July 1, despite his defense team's efforts to delay the trial over bias concerns stemming from the Boston Marathon bombings.