Victims of the 2009 Fort Hood shooting attack will be awarded Purple Heart medals for their service and sacrifice.
The Army announced in a press release that because of changes to the eligibility criteria for the medals, the victims of the attack on the Fort Hood Army Base can now receive the awards.
“The Purple Heart’s strict eligibility criteria had prevented us from awarding it to victims of the horrific attack at Fort Hood," says Secretary of the Army John McHugh. "It’s an appropriate recognition of their service and sacrifice.”
Prior to the provision, added in 2015 to the National Defense Authorization Act, the medals could only be awarded to those who'd been victims of attackers directed by a "foreign terrorist organization." Thanks to the recent changes to the language of the criteria, attackers don't have to be "under the direction of" the organization; the attacker could have been "in communication with" or "inspired or motivated by" the organization.
"These folks, they’ve been standing in harm’s way for us for a long time, these particular soldiers really have felt left out," says U.S. Rep. John Carter (R-Texas). "So it’s a day for me at least to be happy that finally they’re getting recognition they deserve."
Shooter Nidal Hasan, then an Army Major, killed 13 and injured 30 in his attack on the base in 2009. An Army investigation concluded that Hasan had been in communication with a radical terrorist organization prior to the attack and that his actions were inspired by the terrorist group. Hasan was convicted in 2013 of 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted murder and was given a death sentence. Today he is in the prison facility in Leavenworth, Kan., waiting out the appellate process.
Army officials are currently seeking out those eligible for the award, which Carter calls the "most revered medal in military history." Purple Heart recipients also receive retirement compensation, improved benefits and the opportunity to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.