After five years of lobbying, lawmakers and activists have ensured that the victims of the 2009 terror attack on Fort Hood will receive the Purple Heart.
After the attack, lawyers for the victims of Major Nidal Hasan’s massacre began to put pressure on the Army to declare the attack an act of terrorism (as opposed to “workplace violence,”) so that victims and their families could receive the medals and associated benefits.
Congress changed the game when they altered the National Defense Authorization Act to expand eligibility for the Purple Heart to include those wounded by a perpetrator in communication with or inspired by a foreign terrorist.
From the Austin American-Statesman:
Army Secretary John M. McHugh has directed Army officials to identify soldiers and civilians eligible for the Purple Heart, and its civilian equivalent the Defense of Freedom medal, “as soon as possible and to contact them about presentation of the awards,” the Army said today.
McHugh said the Purple Heart’s “strict eligibility criteria” had prevented victims from receiving the awards earlier. “Now that Congress has changed the criteria, we believe there is sufficient reason to allow these men and women to be awarded and recognized with either the Purple Heart or, in the case of civilians, the Defense of Freedom Medal,” McHugh said in a statement. “It’s an appropriate recognition of their service and sacrifice.”
Even five years later, many of those who survived the attack are still too injured or mentally damaged to work. By expanding eligibility for the award, these families will be able to better heal the wounds that Hassan inflicted.
Both the White House and the Pentagon lobbied against expanding Purple Heart eligibility, but the legislation passed with bipartisan support.DONATE
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