- The Washington Times - Friday, April 10, 2015

The Army presented nearly 40 awards Friday morning to survivors of the 2009 Fort Hood shooting and the families of those who were killed to thank them for their sacrifices.

The presentation of Purple Hearts of its civilian counterpart, the Defense of Freedom Medal, to those affected by the shooting, ends a years-long battle by survivors to reclassify the attack as part of the war on terror.

Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland, commanding general of III Corps and Fort Hood, said the Purple Hearts are a recognition of sacrifices made and will hopefully bring some closure to those who were wounded themselves or lost a loved one.

“It is our sincere hope that today in some small way we can help heal the wounds you suffered,” he said during a ceremony at the Killeen, Texas, base.

The Army will present a total or 47 medals after reviewing who is eligible according to Defense Department standards. On Friday, 27 who were wounded in action and 11 families of those killed in action received the medals. Others will be recognized at local ceremonies across the country, Lt. Gen. MacFarland said.

Of the 30 injured soldiers, 10 continue to serve on active duty, in the National Guard or reserves, Lt. Gen. MacFarland said, demonstrating the Army’s resiliency in the face of hardships.

Army Maj. Nidal Hasan opened fire at Fort Hood on Nov. 5, 2009, killing 13 and injuring more than 30. While the incident was initially classified as workplace violence, victims pushed for the military to reclassify it as a terrorist attack as part of the broader war on terror after an investigation found that Hasan was communicating with an Al Qaeda leader ahead of the attack.

He also shouted “Allahu akbar” during the shooting, Arabic for “God is great.”

Last year’s annual defense policy bill finally made victims and families of those killed in the shooting eligible for the medal.

Several Texas politicians attending Friday’s ceremony including Gov. Greg Abbott, Republican Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, and Reps. John Carter, Louie Gohmert, Michael McCaul, Phil Roe, Bill Flores and Roger Williams. Army Secretary John McHugh also attended the ceremony and presented the awards.

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