Forty-seven victims of the Fort Hood shooting that killed 13 and wounded 32 finally received medals Friday.
“Today, we honor those touched by November the 5th. We ask for your peace, grace, and healing to overwhelm their loss,” said Chaplain Col. Robert Whitlock, opening the ceremony.
After years of battling the Obama administration and the Department of Defense, soldiers received Purple Hearts and civilians received the Defense of Freedom medal.
“We ask for your help as a community to remember, to cherish and to honor our own, and as always, we ask for your wisdom and strength to live today and everyday according to your will. Amen.”
Aside from the symbolic significance of receiving the award, families and victims are relieved they’ll finally be able to obtain combat-related compensation to help with physical and mental suffering. Some have been left unable to work at all.
“It is our sincere hope that today, in some small way, we will help to heal the wounds you have suffered…All gave some and some gave all,” Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland, commanding general of III Corps at Fort Hood, told the audience.
“While no words can resurrect those we lost or completely erase the scars, today’s ceremony is an opportunity to provide a sense of closure to those who were injured or those who lost a loved one,” MacFarland continued.
In November of 2009, former Maj. Nadal Hasan opened fire at Fort Hood, killing 13 and wounding 32. Hasan has since been sentence to death for his crimes, which were initially classified as workplace violence by the Obama administration, despite Hasan shouting “Allahu Akhbar” during the attacks. The Federal Bureau of Investigation also uncovered evidence that Hasan had been in correspondence with al-Qaida leader Anwar al-Awlaki.
Even after he was convicted in 2013, Hasan asked his lawyer to release more information which showed Hasan pledging allegiance to the Islamic State leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
In early February, five years of petitioning the Department of Defense to reclassify the attack finally paid off. Army Secretary John McHugh announced the change following reclassification of the Purple Heart award by the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act.
Legislators made sure to include language in the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act which stipulated that if a perpetrator was in contact with a terrorist organization prior to the attack and that contact inspired an attack, then an incident involving that perpetrator qualifies as a foreign terrorist organization. This meant that victims could qualify for the Purple Heart medal. (RELATED: Army Declares That Victims Of Fort Hood Will Now Receive The Purple Heart)
Aside from special compensation following retirement, Purple Heart recipients will be allowed burial at the Arlington National Ceremony.
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