U.S. lawmakers' efforts to award Purple Hearts to the victims and survivors of the 2009 Fort Hood shooting could be used as a defense for the perpetrator.

Initially, the government classified the Nov. 5, 2009, shooting that killed 13 and wounded 31 others as an act of workplace violence, despite former Army Maj. Nidal Hasan's insistence during his 2013 court-martial that he committed the shooting to protect Taliban leaders from U.S. soldiers deploying to Afghanistan. A military judge threw out that defense, and Hasan was eventually convicted and sentenced to death for the shooting.

Because of the workplace violence classification, the victims and survivors of the attack were not initially eligible to receive the Purple Heart. But U.S. lawmakers added language into the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015 that expanded the eligibility for the medal. The new language allows the Purple Heart to be awarded if the perpetrator of an attack was in communication with or inspired by foreign terrorists. Victims at Fort Hood received their medals Friday.

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