Victims of the shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas finally received their long-awaited Purple Heart medals, or the Defense of Freedom Medal in the case of civilian survivors or relatives, in a ceremony at the military base today.
In August 2013, Major Nidal Hasan was found guilty on 13 counts of premeditated murder on November 5, 2009, Fort Hood shooting massacre, and he is currently on death row at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. In the attack, Hasan opened fire and killed 13 persons at the military base and wounded about 30.
The Obama administration repeatedly insisted 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.
“Following years of tension, the Army gave the Purple Hearts to survivors and relatives of the dead in a somber ceremony on the Texas military post, just two miles from where Nidal Hasan had opened fire in a room of unarmed soldiers,” AP explained about the deadliest mass shooting that has ever occurred on a military installation.
Military bases are gun-free zones.
The medal presentation was thus a culmination of six years of legislative effort. “Representative John Carter, a Texas Republican whose district includes Fort Hood, repeatedly introduced bills starting in 2009, to grant the award to victims and their families, which would also give them additional health care and survivor benefits. But he faced pushback from the Pentagon. Purple Hearts are typically given to troops wounded in battle, but official criteria also allow it to be given to troops injured on domestic soil in an ‘international terrorism attack,'” the New York Times reported.
Ten of the Fort Hood survivors are still on active duty with the U.S. Army.
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 last August, Hasan apparently wrote a letter to the ISIS leader asking to become a “citizen” of the caliphate.
In February, the Secretary of the Army announced that the medals would finally 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 for the combat decoration.
“Congress 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 in February.
As alluded to above, Purple Heart recipients are eligible for additional medical, retirement, and other combat injury-related benefits. The military is apparently, however, still denying benefits to at least of one of the victims, Sgt. Shawn Manning, who said that “I think it’s almost unheard of for someone to receive the Purple Heart but not have their injuries deemed combat-related.” Manning was shot six times by Hasan.
A host of dignitaries attended the event including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and U.S. Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz. President Obama did not attend the Purple Heart ceremony at Fort Hood.
[image via Twitter]