WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Victims of the 2009 Fort Hood, Texas, terrorist attack will receive the country’s highest medal awarded to individuals killed or wounded in military operations, following a revision of the eligibility criteria, the US Army said in a press release.
“Secretary of the Army John McHugh announced today that he has approved awarding the Purple Heart and its civilian counterpart, the Medal for Defense of Freedom, to victims of a 2009 shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, following a change in the medals’ eligibility criteria mandated by Congress,” the press release, issued on Friday, said.
Thirteen people were killed and more than 30 wounded when Major Nidal Hasan went on a shooting rampage at Fort Hood. Hasan was convicted and sentenced to death in 2013. Hasan was suspected of being influenced by, and in communication with the terrorist organization al-Qaeda.
Congress changed the medals’ eligibility criteria in the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act.
Under the revision, the criteria, requiring an attack by a foreign terrorist organization, was changed to include an attack in which the individual “was in communication with the foreign terrorist organization before the attack” and “the attack was 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, McHugh said.
“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. It’s an appropriate recognition of their service and sacrifice,” he added.
Purple Heart and Medal for the Defense of Freedom recipients are awarded special compensation at retirement, and have the right to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.