[caption id="attachment_40083" align="alignleft" width="220"] Nidal Malik Hasan was sentenced to death by a general court-martial. He is incarcerated at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, while post-trial and appellate processes continue.[/caption]
It's about damn time. On Friday, the U.S. Army announced that it will finally award the Purple Heart to victims of the Fort Hood massacre 5 years after radical Islamist Nidal Malik Hasan shot and killed 13 people while wounding more than 30 others.
"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, for civilians, the Defense of Freedom medal.
"It's an appropriate recognition of their service and sacrifice," Secretary of the Army John McHugh said.
Under a provision of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015, Congress expanded the eligibility for the Purple Heart by redefining what should be considered an attack by a "foreign terrorist organization" for purposes of determining eligibility for the Purple Heart. The legislation states that an event should now be considered an attack by a foreign terrorist organization if the perpetrator of the attack "was in communication with the foreign terrorist organization before the attack" and "the attack was inspired or motivated by the foreign terrorist organization."
In a review of the Fort Hood incident and the new provisions of law, the Army determined that there was sufficient evidence to conclude Hasan "was in communication with the foreign terrorist organization before the attack," and that his radicalization and subsequent acts could reasonably be considered to have been "inspired or motivated by the foreign terrorist organization."
Previous criteria required a finding that Hasan had been acting at the direction of a foreign terrorist organization.
McHugh directed Army officials to identify soldiers and civilians now eligible for the awards as soon as possible, and to contact them about presentation of the awards. Soldiers receiving the Purple Heart automatically qualify for combat-related special compensation upon retirement. Recipients also are eligible for burial at Arlington National Cemetery.