“Purple Heart to Be Awarded to Victims at Fort Hood,” by Ashley Southall, New York Times, February 6, 2015:
The Army will award the Purple Heart to victims of the deadly 2009 shooting at Fort Hood in Texas, after Congress approved a measure expanding eligibility for the award.
Thirteen people were killed and over 30 were wounded in Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan’s attack. The victims and their families fought for years to receive the Purple Heart and its benefits but were denied because of a debate over whether the shooting met the legal requirement to be considered an act of terror.
“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,” the Army secretary, John M. McHugh, said in a statement announcing the decision. “It’s an appropriate recognition of their service and sacrifice.”
Until Friday, officials referred to the shooting at the base as “workplace violence,” not terrorism.
“In essence, what we have now is a recognition from the Pentagon of what the whole world knew right away, that this was an act of terror,” said Neal Sher, a lawyer for dozens of the victims. “I consider this event to be a major victory. I think it finally puts to rest the insulting and disingenuous insinuation that this was an incident of workplace violence.”
Congress expanded the eligibility criteria for the Purple Heart in December with a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015. The law states that an event should be considered 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.” Previously, the law required a finding that the perpetrator was acting at the direction of a foreign terrorist organization….