Victims of the shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas, will finally receive the Purple Heart medal, or the Defense of Freedom Medal in the case of civilians.
In August 2013, Major Nidal Hasan was found guilty on 13 counts of premeditated murder in the November 5, 2009, Fort Hood shooting massacre, and he is currently on death row at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Hasan killed 13 persons at the military base and wounded about 30 in the attack.
The Obama administration has insisted all along that this incident was workplace violence rather than an act of terrorism.
"Despite extensive evidence that Hasan was in communication with [al-Qaida] leader Anwar al-Awlaki prior to the attack, the military has denied the victims a Purple Heart and has treated the incident as 'workplace violence' instead of 'combat related' or terrorism," ABC News reported in April 2013.
In an about face, as it were, the Secretary of the Army announced earlier today, however, that the medals would be awarded to the victims of the 2009 shooting as a result of a provision inserted in a law passed by Congress, the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act, which broadened the relevant criteria.
"Congress has expanded eligibility by redefining an attack by a 'foreign terrorist organization' to include an incident in which an individual involved was in communication with a foreign terrorist organization beforehand and the attack was inspired or motivated by it, [Secretary of the Army John] McHugh said," the Washington Post noted.
McHugh claimed that strict eligibility criteria prevented awarding Purple Hearts until now. Purple Heart recipients are also eligible for additional medical, retirement, and other benefits.
Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, allegedly shouted "Allahu Akbar" when he opened fire at the base, and has also pledged allegiance to ISIS, the Washington Times explained.
As the Inquisitr reported in August, Hasan apparently wrote a letter to the ISIS leader asking to become a "citizen" of the caliphate.
One of the sponsors of the provision in the bill that revised the definition of terrorism, Rep John Carter (R-Tex.), said that "This has been a long, hard fight. The victims of this attack have struggled, suffered and been abandoned by this Administration. No more. Today is a day of victory and I am honored to have fought on their behalf... I commend the Secretary of the Army for stepping up to provide the victims their due benefits and to finally give closure to the families."
Added a lawyer for some of the Fort Hood families who sought Purple Heart military honors for the victims of the attack, "The administration and the Pentagon... they lobbied hard against it. But we worked very hard and we were successful in garnering bi-partisan support for this," Fox News reported.