I looked up to see a man in Army fatigues firing a pistol. His fourth or fifth shot went into my chest. As screams broke out around me, I collapsed to the ground. The bullet had punctured my lung and I was gasping for breath. As I lay there, he shot me five more times in my back and legs. Eventually soldiers helped me get medical attention.
The bullets had narrowly missed my heart, but one had lodged in my liver. I still have two bullets in my body and deal with near-constant pain in my legs and back.
During my recovery, I learned that the Army had classified the shooting as nonpolitical workplace violence instead of a terrorist attack. The language used to describe the attack may seem meaningless, but it is very meaningful to the victims and their families.
Because the Army decided that our wounds were not “combat-related,” a number of benefits are being denied to the victims and their families, including certain health and disability ones. In some instances, the designation even resulted in victims receiving smaller salaries than we would have received during our deployment. As a reservist, I was making roughly $2,000 per month less than I would have in my private-sector job. The Army would have made up that difference had I been on deployment orders or had my injuries classified as combat-related.