Should Ft. Hood victims get the Purple Heart?

Should Ft. Hood victims get the Purple Heart?
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Survivors and family members of those killed in the 2009 Fort Hood mass shooting have filed a petition with the Defense Department to declare the attack an act of terrorism.

Such a designation would make military service members impacted by the attack eligible to receive the Purple Heart and grant civilians the Medal for Defense of Freedom, one of the group’s attorneys told Reuters on Tuesday.

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The Pentagon classified the shooting, in which Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Hasan killed 13 people and wounded more than 30 others, as workplace violence, rather than an act of terrorism. Hasan had been in contact with al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki, and victims have argued that they should be eligible for extra combat benefits and recognition.

For years, Republican lawmakers have pushed legislation that would declare the shooting took place in a combat zone and was a terrorist attack, mandating Purple Hearts for soldiers killed or wounded.

A new provision in the fiscal 2014 defense authorization bill, signed into law by President Obama earlier this month, would expand eligibility for the Purple Heart to include “members of the Armed Forces who have been killed or wounded in an attack inspired or motivated by a foreign terrorist.”

"As far as we're concerned, it would just be outrageous for them not to give these people the award," attorney Neal Sher told Reuters.

A Pentagon spokesman said the agency is looking at how incidents since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks fit the new guidelines.

"We anticipate a determination on all such incidents, including the attack at Fort Hood in 2009, in the near future," Lt. Commander Nate Christensen said in an email.

Earlier this month, a trio of Arkansas lawmakers asked Army Secretary John McHugh to award the Purple Heart to two soldiers shot by a radicalized Muslim in 2009 at a recruiting center in Little Rock, Ark.