Awarding the Purple Heart to Victims of Terrorism?

Awarding the Purple Heart to Victims of Terrorism?

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By Brett Daniel Shehadey
In Military Education, Guest Contributor

On Feb. 6, Secretary of the Army John McHugh approved the Fort Hood Massacre Victims as eligible to receive the prestigious Purple Heart and all the honors and benefits associated with it.

The Fort Hood Massacre was carried out by Nidal Hasan (formerly a U.S. Army officer and psychiatrist), and many have since labelled him a terrorist. In 2009, Hasan fired on personnel around the base entrance, killing 13 and wounding 30.

Secretary McHugh’s said:

“The Purple Heart’s strict eligibility criteria had prevented us from awarding it to victims of the horrific attack at Fort Hood. 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.”

The Purple Heart review for Foot Hood victims comes after the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015. This law changed Purple Heart Criteria to include those wounded or killed by “a foreign terrorist organization” and was a long fought effort of petitions and Congressmen supported by family members of the slain victims. Beforehand, only uniform personnel wounded in combat could receive the award.

In a way, the change satisfies a stricter expansion for traditionalists and opens the door for the Purple Heart to be given to future victims of terrorism. The Army said that the attacker was in connection with a foreign terrorist organization and was inspired by them as well. Hasan personally furthered his moniker as ‘terrorist’ when he applied to become a ‘citizen’ of the Islamic State (IS) last year. Hasan’s acts at Fort Hood were neither friendly-fire nor combat, so the key change is to honor the victims of terrorism from inside or outside attacks, regardless of an external enemy.

Continue reading this article at one of our other APUS properties, InHomelandSecurity.com.

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