The Army has approved the awarding of the Purple Heart and a civilian counterpart medal to the soldiers and civilians wounded in the 2009 Fort Hood shooting after years of pressure from victims' families and Congress. Thirteen people were killed and 32 were injured in the shooting carried out by Major Nidal Hassan, an Army psychiatrist, military officials said today.
The move was precipitated by a change in the law that broadened the strict eligibility rules for the medal, which is awarded to those wounded in combat. The shooting victims were previously deemed not eligible for the award because the Nov. 5, 2009, shooting by Hassan was ruled by the military to be a workplace violence incident.
Advocates for the shooting victims have urged the Army for years to reconsider that assessment as a case of terrorism given that Hasan was in communication with Anwar al Awlaki, the American cleric who was a senior leader in Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).