Congress approves purple hearts for Ft. Hood victims

First responders use a table as a stretcher to transport a wounded US Soldier to an awaiting ambulance at Fort Hood, Texas, Nov. 5, 2009. Photo credit: U.S. Army

According to an article by The Washington Times, Congress is passing legislation which makes the individuals killed and injured in the 2009 Fort Hood terrorist attack eligible to receive the Purple Heart.

Seen as a shameful move by most, the soldiers affected by the attack were to be treated as victims of “workplace violence.”  His motive was to show a strong force against the enemy by not showing weakness.

However, by refusing to recognize the attack in its true sense, the soldiers were ineligible to receive the Purple Heart.  Not only were they denied the benefits associated with it, but also were the family members of those killed.

Recognizing the disservice to both the military members and their families affected by the attack, language was included in the FY15 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) congressional conference agreement that gives victims of the 2009 terrorist attack Purple Heart status.  The only thing preventing the legislation from passing is the signature of President Obama.

Rep. Roger Williams released a statement Thursday saying, “This is a huge step in the joint efforts to help victims of the Fort Hood terrorist attack, and I’d like to thank Rep. John Carter and many of our Texas colleagues for their endless support. Our nation’s leaders must uphold our solemn commitment to provide for troops in harm’s way, whether at home or abroad. President Obama has neglected those whose lives were taken and forever changed that day. This bipartisan, bicameral legislation gives President Obama yet another opportunity to honor his pledge to take care of our American soldiers who were victims of terrorism.”

It continued stating, “Despite extensive evidence that Hasan was in communication with al-Qaeda 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.”

Last month, a spokesman for Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the Department’s position had not changed under his leadership.

The Washington Times reported that Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, called the change long overdue and stated he would push the Pentagon to award the Purple Hearts as soon as possible after the defense bill is signed into law.

Recognizing the sacrifice of our military is something an administration can do without intervention by Congress. For the Obama administration, his refusal to allow the Purple Heart for the Fort Hood massacre victims remains a disappointment.

The new medal criteria will apply to all military members injured or killed at Fort Hood, including the two soldiers attacked in a 2009 shooting outside an Arkansas recruiting office.


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