Congressional efforts to secure Purple Hearts for Fort Hood shooting victims have met with failure. Pentagon officials sent a position paper to congressional staffers Friday detailing the military's opposition.
Thirteen people were killed and 32 others were wounded in the 2009 massacre at the Army post. The attack has not been labeled a terrorist act despite evidence that the alleged shooter, Nidal Hasan, communicated with an American-born al-Qaida cleric and was motivated by Hasan's belief that America was at war with Islam.
U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Texas, whose district includes Fort Hood, introduced legislation in February that would award combat status to military and civilian victims. That came after an ABC News investigation featured several victims who said they had been neglected by the system.
Sgt. Kimberly Munley told ABC that her gunshot wound should be considered no different than getting shot in combat by an insurgent in Iraq or Afghanistan.
The Pentagon disagrees, saying that issuing a Purple Heart to victims could "irrevocably alter the fundamental character of this time-honored decoration" and "undermine the prosecution of Major Nidal Hasan by materially and directly compromising Major Hasan's ability to receive a fair trial."
Hasan's trial is set to begin on May 29. The Pentagon has refused to classify his rampage as terrorism and classified it as "workplace violence" instead.
Carter is backing down for now, saying he may renew the push after Hasan's trial.
"The DOD position paper is dead wrong to oppose this legislation," Carter told ABC News. "These victims deserve recognition and compensation for the injuries and loss of life from a direct attack on a U.S. military installation."
The Pentagon paper isn't sitting well with victims, many of whom have filed a lawsuit against the Army for classifying the shooting as "workplace violence" and for putting their care at a lower priority than those who have suffered injuries sustained in combat overseas.
"It's a slap in the face. Given everything that has occurred over the last three and a half years, this is incomprehensible, and in many respects, not worth of the Army. It's regrettable and tremendously wrongheaded," victim attorney Reed Rubenstein told ABC News.