The U.S. Army told Congress in a letter Friday that the circumstances surrounding the 2009 Fort Hood massacre resulting in 13 dead and 32 wounded at the hands of then-Maj. Nidal Hasan was an act of terror.
The decision puts to rest a more-than five year battle by victims and members of Congress to set aside the Defense Department’s previous ruling that the tragedy was an act of workplace violence, according to McClatchyDC.
It also opens the door to giving the victims the recognition they deserve — Purple Hearts for the military personnel, and Defense of Freedom awards for the civilian victims — together with any benefits that may accrue with the recognitions.
“The Purple Heart’s strict eligibility criteria had prevented us from awarding it to victims of the horrific attack at Fort Hood,” said Secretary of the Army John McHugh in announcing the decision. “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.”
Members of Congress who worked on the issue were overjoyed by the decision.
“This is fantastic. This is the greatest day for these victims,” said an upbeat Rep. Roger Williams, R-Texas, who has worked on legislation to secure the awards since entering Congress in 2013. “It became common sense to call this ‘terrorism.’ From day one, President Barack Obama and the administration didn’t want this to happen, to have an “act of terror” on their watch.”
Williams and Rep. John Carter, R-Texas, each represent parts of Fort Hood, and worked together on legislation to pave the way for the revised ruling.
“I introduced the first bill on this three weeks after it happened,” said Carter in an interview. “I’m extremely happy for these victims. This guy considered himself a terrorist.”
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