Watch: Fort Hood Shooting Victims Receive Purple Heart Medals
Updated 11 a.m. This morning, victims of the 2009 Fort Hood shooting attack were awarded Purple Heart medals for their service and sacrifice. A video of the ceremony is available below.
Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland greeted those in attendance, which aside from victims, families, and military, included Sen. Ted Cruz, Gov. Greg Abbott and U.S. Rep. John Carter.
"It is our sincere hope that today we will, in some small way, help to heal the wounds that you have suffered," MacFarland said.
The ceremony today awarded Purple Hearts and Defense of Freedom medals to 27 of those wounded and the families and loved ones of 11 of those killed in the attacks. The other recipients who were not at today's ceremony will "be honored in local ceremonies throughout the nation," MacFarland said.
U.S. Rep. John Carter calls the Purple Heart the "most revered medal in military history." Purple Heart recipients receive retirement compensation, improved benefits and the opportunity to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
The Army announced in February that it had added a provision to Purple Heart eligibility criteria to allow the victims to receive the honors. Prior to the provision, the medals could only be awarded to those who'd been victims of attackers directed by a "foreign terrorist organization." New language says that an attacker doesn'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. An Army investigation concluded that the 2009 shooter was in communication with and inspired by a radical terrorist group.
"These folks, they’ve been standing in harm’s way for us for a long time, these particular soldiers really have felt left out," Carter said when it was announced that the victims would receive medals. "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. 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, Kansas.