The Pentagon announced this week that those service members who had been wounded during the deadly attack at Fort Hood, Texas, perpetrated by Major Nidal Hassan would not be considered eligible for the Purple Heart medal. This is a wrong-headed decision.
The Purple Heart, one of America’s oldest military awards, is the way the nation thanks service members who have been physically wounded due to enemy actions. It is an award no one wants to earn, but those who have made that qualifying sacrifice certainly deserve it. So why has the Army strangely ruled that those wounded at Fort Hood do not qualify? Because the Fort Hood attacks have been mislabeled.
This event should have been called what it really was: a horrendous terrorist act. Possibly driven by this Administration’s idea of political correctness, it was officially characterized as “an incident of workplace violence.”
All service members killed or wounded in the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon were awarded Purple Hearts. Furthermore, U.S. military award regulations state that after 1973, service members killed or wounded as the result of an officially recognized terrorist attack are eligible to receive Purple Hearts.
Hassan was a disciple of now-dead terrorist leader Anwar al-Awlaki. Hassan had been in e-mail contact with this enemy of the United States. He had made numerous comments to peers about his radical views, and he executed his attack while screaming “Allah Akbar.” His attack was not workplace violence—it was a terrorist attack, clear and simple.
That mistaken characterization should be changed. Army leadership should not wait until the Hassan trial is completed to make the change—unless there is a real reason that it might adversely affect the prosecution. The proper and legitimate conviction of Hassan should be the priority. That said, it does not appear that labeling his attack as an act of terrorism would be a problem for the case.
The Army should change its characterization of that event, call it a terrorist attack, and thus allow those wounded at Fort Hood to be given full consideration for the Purple Heart medals for which the American people believe their blood deserves.