KILLEEN, Texas - Texas lawmakers have spent five years fighting for the victims of the 2009 Fort Hood shooting. Friday, the Secretary of the Army announced that victims of the attack do meet the criteria for the Purple Heart.
"The Defense Department has just announced that they will award Purple Hearts to those wounded at the shooting at Fort Hood," said U.S. Rep. John Carter, (R) Texas, during a press conference Friday.
On November 5, 2009, Army Psychiatrist Major Nidal Hasan walked into the Medical Readiness building at Fort Hood. Hasan shouted, "God is great," in Arabic and then opened fire on soldiers awaiting medical attention. 13 people were killed in the attack; more than two dozen were injured.
"Finally, some people who had just come back from war or who were on their way to war who got shot right here on Fort Hood, they're finally going to get the recognition I think they deserve," said Carter.
Civilians injured in the shooting will also be recognized with Defense of Freedom medals. Carter said the award and the benefits that come with it should not have taken five years. The Department of Defense said Purple Hearts were not originally awarded because the shooting was classified as "workplace violence" and not "terrorism."
"If they gave these medals to the people at the Pentagon, which they did when we were attacked on 9/11, then this certainly was a terrorist attack and they should get the medals here," said Carter.
U.S. lawmakers, several of them from Texas, worked to change the criteria for a Purple Heart so that it would include the victims at Fort Hood.
Carter said the new criteria reads, "Purple Heart and the Defense Medal of Freedom to include victims of attacks by individuals or organizations in communication with foreign terrorist organizations and motivated by foreign terrorist organizations."
Carter said just two weeks after the 2009 shooting he filed legislation to get victims the awards they deserve and he said he will do everything he can to get the Defense Department to speed up the application process.
"Our Senators are going to be all over this to say, 'Let's move it along,'" said Carter.