Fort Hood Victims to Receive Purple Hearts. Finally.
Nearly 6 years after then-US Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan killed 14 and wounded more than 30 in the massacre at Fort Hood, those victims are finally to receive the medal awarded for being “wounded in action” against the enemy:
Secretary of the Army John McHugh announced today that he has approved awarding the Purple Heart and its civilian counterpart, the Secretary of Defense Medal for the Defense of Freedom, to victims of a 2009 shooting at Fort Hood, Texas…
Hasan, motivated by his Islamic faith and reportedly inspired by extremist religious leaders, attacked his fellow soldiers in an act many said made him part of the enemy force the US military was fighting — which should have made them eligible for the Purple Heart. After originally saying the Medal would have prejudiced his court martial, the Army is now saying the delay was because of the way the law was written:
[New] legislation states that an event should now be considered an attack by a foreign terrorist organization if the perpetrator of the attack “was in communication with the foreign terrorist organization before the attack” and “the attack was inspired or motivated by the foreign terrorist organization.”
Previous criteria required a finding that Hasan had been acting at the direction of a foreign terrorist organization…
Interestingly, it does not seem that the Army had ever cited that roadblock before, nor had they sought to change it. In fact, according to an attorney for the victims, the Pentagon actually opposed the change in law [emphasis added]:
Neal Sher told Fox News in January there was stiff resistance to the new congressional language requiring a review of Purple Heart consideration. “The administration and the Pentagon…lobbied hard against it. But we worked very hard and we were successful in garnering bi-partisan support for this.”
Regardless, the door has now been opened for all servicemembers who may be wounded in a terrorist attack — irrespective of where it was conducted or by whom — to be eligible for the recognition of their combat wounds.
The Purple Heart is also accompanied by certain entitlements which may contribute to easing the strain on the lives of the Fort Hood victims.