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Fort Hood Soldiers Killed and Wounded By Hasan to Get Purple Hearts

The Army has approved the award of the Purple Heart and its civilian counterpart to the victims of Army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan in the 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas.

Thirteen people were killed and more than 30 wounded in the shootings that had been treated as an incident of "workplace violence" rather than a terrorist act.

Hasan, who was convicted in 2013 of 13 counts of murder and 32 counts of attempted murder, has admitted to being influenced by the late Anwar Awlaki, chief propagandist for the al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula terrorist group. A major at the time of the shooting, Hasan was stripped of his rank and dismissed from the Army after his conviction.

The Army had denied the Purple Heart awards and the benefits that go with them, but Congress passed an amendment included in the National Defense Authorization Act last year clearing the way for the award of the Purple Heart to soldiers killed and wounded by Hasan and the Defense of Freedom Medal to the civilians.

The amendment changed the rule to allow for an event to be deemed an attack by a "foreign terrorist organization" if the perpetrator "was in communication with the foreign terrorist organization before the attack" and "the attack was inspired or motivated by the foreign terrorist organization."

In its review of the Fort Hood shootings, the Army found that there was sufficient evidence to conclude that Hasan "was in communication with the foreign terrorist organization before the attack," and that his radicalization and subsequent acts could be considered to have been "inspired or motivated by the foreign terrorist organization."

"The Purple Heart’s strict eligibility criteria had prevented us from awarding it to victims of the horrific attack at Fort Hood," Army Secretary John McHugh said in a statement Friday.

"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. "It’s an appropriate recognition of their service and sacrifice."

Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said the awards came "after years of unnecessary delays and political gamesmanship."

"Although nothing can ever repay them for their sacrifices, I hope that honoring them with Purple Hearts will offer a sense of recognition and appreciation on behalf of a grateful nation," McCaul said.

Soldiers receiving a Purple Heart qualify for combat-related retirement pay, and also are eligible for burial at Arlington National Cemetery.

Following his 2013 conviction, Hasan was sentenced to death by a general court martial. He is incarcerated at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, while the post-trial and appellate processes continue.

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at richard.sisk@military.com

Related Topics

Crime Purple Heart Awards