Why did it take this long to give purple hearts to soldiers wounded by a “religious warrior” who wants to join the Islamic State?
It seems completely incomprehensible that it would take six years to recognize people shot by a religious extremist who was loyal to an enemy of the United States. But these people were wounded at the Fort Hood shooting in 2009. The Defense Department insisted that the incident merely counted as a matter of “workplace violence.”
Now they have switched their position. The reason they can do so and save face is that they claim it required Congress to change the definition. Thus, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports,
New criteria outlined in the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act include attacks on service members by foreign terrorist organizations. With the criteria retroactive to September 11, 2001, the Department of Defense is reviewing other potentially qualifying incidents, the office of Army Secretary John McHugh said in the letter to Congress.
The legislation requires that an event be considered an attack by a foreign terrorist organization if the perpetrator was in communication with such a group ahead of the attack or if it was motivated by an allegiance to the group.
“Now that Congress has changed the criteria, we believe there is sufficient reason to allow these men and women to be awarded and recognized with either the Purple Heart or, in the case of civilians, the Defense of Freedom medal,” McHugh said in a news release Friday. “It’s an appropriate recognition of their service and sacrifice.”
The provision was added last year by Texas Republican Rep. John Carter to give Fort Hood victims combat-related benefits and Purple Heart medals. Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn, who was part of that bipartisan effort, said McHugh’s announcement “brings long-awaited justice to the victims.”
The honor is long overdue!
This is not merely about honoring the dead, the wounded, and the truth about how they died. It is also a matter of substance for some of the survivors.
The honor is bestowed on troops wounded in battle, but it also means that combat-related services and increased retirement benefits will be available to victims. Many people wounded in the attack at the sprawling Texas military base have lingering injuries and have struggled to find work after leaving the military.
The fact that these people have been struggling is shameful.