The fight to give the Fallen Five and their families Purple Hearts
President Obama acknowledged the July 16 shootings in Chattanooga as an act of terror in his address to the nation Sunday night.
President Obama is acknowledging the July 16 shootings in Chattanooga as an act of terror. In his address to the nation last night, Obama mentioned the Chattanooga attack as an example of how the terror threat has evolved in the U.S.
Many in our area are wondering if the president's language has any potential impact on honoring the five fallen servicemen with Purple Hearts.
There is no question the fallen five are seen as heroes. That is why lawmakers are pushing Obama to support the effort to award the family members of Sullivan, Wyatt, Holmquist, Wells, and Smith with Purple Hearts.
"Terrorists turn to less complicated acts of violence like the mass shootings that are all too common in our society. It is this type of attack that we saw at Fort Hood in 2009. In Chattanooga earlier this year," said President Obama in his address to the nation Sunday.
Obama's formal address to the nation has some, like the wife of Lieutenant Commander Tim White, who was at the Naval Center on July 16, asking when the fallen five will be honored after death with Purple Hearts? She posted online Sunday night: "President Obama mentions Chattanooga July 16 shooting in his speech on terrorism. Can the fallen 5 get their Purple Hearts now? #heroes"
"It was clear to me that it was terrorism. It was clear to people in our great community, who are Chattanooga Strong, that this was terrorism," said Representative Chuck Fleischmann (R) TN-3.
Representative Fleischmann presented a resolution to congress shortly after the attacks in July to make sure the families of the fallen five receive Purple Hearts.
"When someone is awarded the Purple Heart the benefits are cumulative. So they don't lose any benefits they've already gotten but there are some additional benefits," said Fleischmann.
The resolution has 86 co-sponsors and bi-partisan support.
In the meantime, FBI investigators have yet to classify the July 16 attack as an act of terror.
"They've got a job to do. They've got an ongoing investigation and I have to respect that. But this was an easy one early to call it terrorism."
The military has already prepared Purple Heart packets. But until the FBI finds the July 16 shooter was in contact with a foreign terrorist organization before the attack and was "inspired or motivated by the foreign terrorist organization," they can not be awarded.
"I'm writing a letter to the president asking him to acknowledge his comments from last night and to work with me to make sure that these five fallen heroes get the Purple Heart," said Fleischmann.
Fleischmann's office sent that letter to President Obama Monday.
As far as his resolution, it is pending in the Armed Services Committee. Fleischmann wants to avoid what happened with the 2009 Fort Hood victims and families. It took years of lobbying and legal action. Thirty-six Purple Hearts were not awarded until April of this year.