Six years after the Fort Hood massacre killed 13 and injured more than 30 others, at least one of the survivors says he is still fighting to have his gunshot wounds officially classified as "combat-related injuries," despite a pledge from the Army secretary to provide all possible benefits to the families.
"I hope that this can be fixed. I mean it isn't even necessarily about the benefits anymore, it's just, getting this fixed so I can put this behind me," Shawn Manning told Fox News.
Manning was a staff sergeant when he was shot six times by then Army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan on Nov. 5, 2009. Two bullets remain lodged in his back and leg. Yet he's still seeking the "combat-related" classification for his injuries from a military physical evaluation board.
"I think part of the pushback is there's still people that are reluctant to label the shooting as a terrorist attack," Manning added. "Both within the Department of the Army, Defense Department and the government itself."
In April, the victims and survivors were awarded the Purple Heart during a moving ceremony at Fort Hood, after congressional legislation expanded the Purple Heart's criteria to include victims of attacks motivated or inspired by a foreign terrorist organization. As part of its ongoing investigation of the massacre, Fox News found that Manning and other survivors were still being denied combat-related benefits.
Then-Army Secretary John McHugh said at the time: "After making the determination that the victims of the Fort Hood attack are now eligible for the Purple Heart, it seems only right and fair that these Soldiers also receive the benefits it traditionally entails. That's why I directed an expedited process to make certain that happens."
Manning has received combat-related special compensation under the Purple Heart medal which amounts to $700 a month and a lump sum for back pay. According to an email provided by Manning, his case is on hold, because a physical evaluation board said it could not reach the same conclusion about his gunshot wounds, affecting long-term medical benefits and his retirement.
"Currently we are waiting on final guidance from Department of the Army that would inform us as to whether his conditions can be determined to meet combat-related criteria," the Sept. 18 email read.
In response to questions about Manning's status, Army spokeswoman Cynthia O. Smith on Thursday said the Purple Heart recipients at Fort Hood "should have received all the benefits to which they are legally entitled to receive from the Army at this time; additionally some individual cases may still have pending actions that are currently undergoing the necessary review processes.
"Other potential authorizations and entitlements are also still currently under review at the Department of the Army level and are pending," she said.
Meanwhile sitting on death row, convicted killer Hasan has drafted a 100-page handwritten document, justifying his extreme religious views and claiming his faith is inconsistent with American democracy.
Written from his high-security prison cell at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, and reviewed by Fox News, the lengthy document is what one Islamic history expert described as a "plodding" discussion of his personal convictions to justify the November 2009 murders at the Texas Army base.
"This long document constitutes an attempt at ex post facto justification for his killing of 13 people at Ft. Hood ... retroactively lionizing himself as waging jihad (in the cause of Allah)," Dr. Timothy Furnish, an Islamic history expert, explained. Furnish reviewed the handwritten document, titled "The Purpose of Life: Why Were We Created?" and found no evidence the text contained threats.
Still using the acronym SOA, or soldier of Allah, Hasan wrote: "My Jihad on November 5, 2009 was in the defense of the Taliban in Afghanistan, who I viewed as imperfect Muslims trying to establish the perfect religion of All-Might God as supreme on the land against Americas attempt to impose a western type of democracy."
Hasan also expressed regret, as he has in the past, for taking an oath as an officer in the U.S. Army. Hasan claimed his military pledge conflicts with his deeply held religious beliefs. "I would like to openly admit my error in taking the oath of office in the first place. It was an unislamic oath to begin with," the former Army major explained. "I repent for entering into this unIslamic (sic) oath and ask our Most-Merciful Lord to forgive me."
In his writings, Hasan has left no doubt that the first American targeted for death by the CIA in 2011, Anwar al-Awlaki, was a mentor and spiritual guide.
In August, Hasan pledged his loyalty to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi while asking to be "made a citizen of the Islamic State."
"Every criminal defendant has the right to testify in his or her own defense -- and that right extends to courts-martial proceedings. However, Major Hasan was effectively denied that right at trial," attorney John Galligan, who handled civil matters for Hasan, told Fox News. Galligan said the handwritten document "provides a detailed insight to Major Hasan's deeply-held religious beliefs -- beliefs that have and continue to motivate his actions."
Manning said the document shows the massacre "was clearly terrorism, he admits as much, yet we are still waiting for combat-related benefits."
A class-action lawsuit brought by the victims and their families -- which alleges the U.S. government put political correctness ahead of national security at Fort Hood -- has also stalled. Neal Sher, who is bringing the suit, said the trial record has not been certified as complete by the court, blocking further action. The "U.S. Army and government are dragging their feet," Sher said. "This is BS."
Pamela K. Browne is Senior Executive Producer at the FOX News Channel (FNC) and is Director of Long-Form Series and Specials. Her journalism has been recognized with several awards. Browne first joined FOX in 1997 to launch the news magazine “Fox Files” and later, “War Stories.”
Catherine Herridge is an award-winning Chief Intelligence correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC) based in Washington, D.C. She covers intelligence, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Herridge joined FNC in 1996 as a London-based correspondent.