In 2009 Major Nidal Malik Hasan became infamous for his assault on soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas. He was stopped and taken to court-martial, but not before he killed 13 soldiers and injured another 32. It was debated for a long time whether the wounded survivors and the dead would be awarded the Purple Heart.
Purple Hearts are typically given to soldiers and service members when they sustain injuries directly from enemy combatants. Since this happened on American soil and was committed by an American, many government officials felt that it was not as a result of the sustained combat operations overseas.
Although Hasan had been a medical psychiatrist in the United States Army for six years, after the massacre the FBI discovered that he corresponded with the now-deceased Anwar al-Awlaki, an American born radical cleric who was killed by a drone strike ordered by President Obama.
Hasan was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death by a military court-martial in August 2013.
Soldiers will now receive not only the recognition but the benefits they deserve as they will be awarded Purple Hearts. New phrasing in the next version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) has changed the requirements. The wording in the current NDAA states:
eligibility for the Purple Heart to include members of the Armed Forces who have been killed or wounded in an attack inspired or motivated by a foreign terrorist
Prior to this reclassification, the Purple Heart could only be awarded to service members injured by opposing forces of another country. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean much when the United States has declared war on an ideology (Global War on Terrorism). As foolish as it may be to declare war on an ideology, it is equally as foolish to not recognize it when that ideology has hit home and affected service members on their own turf.
After the service members receive the Purple Heart, they will finally get the recognition and benefits they deserved five years ago. Despite the protests of President Obama in 2009, an ideologically motivated shooting by a radical extremist who happened to pass requirements to get a uniform does not merely classify as “workplace violence.”
Distancing oneself from the radical ideology of the conservative press that paint all Muslims as evil terrorists is understandable, but not at the expense of recognizing the truth. Hasan was not representative of all Muslims but he was a radical extremist who was in contact with radical clerics we killed in the Global War on Terror, taking advice and religious guidance from them.
The United States may be a highly polarized nation with divisive issues. Bigotry may be leading the rabid pack of conservative pundits who are bound and determined to call every action by someone with brown skin representative of the whole population of Muslims. But countering it by refusing to acknowledge true acts of radicalized terror what they are is no less disingenuous.
These soldiers were assaulted and murdered in their own backyard by a radical extremist. It is about time that was recognized. Both Congress and the President should be lauded for this positive change in the 2015 NDAA.
H/T: Examiner | Image via Wikimedia Commons