Should the Fort Hood Shooting Victims Get a Purple Heart and Veteran Benefits?

Debate Question: Should the Shooting Victims from the 2009 Fort Hood Massacre receive the Purple Heart and the same medical/financial benefits that Soldiers who get wounded/die in combat get?

Summary of Events: On November 5th, 2009 Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan opened fired at Fort Hood killing 13 and wounding 32 people.  Investigations before and after the shooting discovered e-mail communications between Hasan and the Yemen-based cleric Anwar al-Awlaki who had been monitored by the NSA as a security threat.  He currently awaits trial.

As of today, the wounded and killed soldiers do not qualify for the Purple Heart (or any other combat related health/medical benefits) because the act was deemed workplace violence, not an act of war.

My Answer: Yes, they should get the Purple Heart and the same medical/financial benefits that wounded soldiers get for combat injuries.

My Reasoning: Even though Major Hasan was an Army Officer, he had ties with Al-Qaeda, and could easily be considered a terrorist, therefore making this a terrorist attack.  A terrorist attack is an act of war (as I see it) regardless of where the geographical location is.

Criteria to Get Purple Heart

The Purple Heart is awarded in the name of the President of the United States to any member of the Armed Forces of the United States who, while serving under competent authority in any capacity with one of the U.S. Armed Services after April 5, 1917, has been wounded or killed. Specific examples of services which warrant the Purple Heart include any action against an enemy of the United States; any action with an opposing armed force of a foreign country in which the Armed Forces of the United States are or have been engaged; while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party; as a result of an act of any such enemy of opposing armed forces; or as the result of an act of any hostile foreign force. Check out the link below to read more on the criteria. Source:

Final Thoughts

I believe the 2009 Fort Hood shooting victims should get the Purple Heart AND the same medical/financial benefits that wounded soldiers get from combat related injuries.  Please leave a comment to this post to tell me what you think about it!

Disclaimer: These views are simply my opinion on the matter and are in no way endorsed by any government agency.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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18 thoughts on “Should the Fort Hood Shooting Victims Get a Purple Heart and Veteran Benefits?”

  1. We are almost into 2015, and the Purple Hearts have still not been awarded to the victims of the Ft. Hood shooting. In August 2014, convicted shoot Nidal Hassan wrote to the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and asked to become a “Soldier of Allah.”

    How long can the administration continue to deny that this man was motivated by terrorist beliefs? How long can it deny our soldiers what they have earned, some of them at the cost of their lives?

    The rationale was that the attack was workplace violence and not a terrorist attack. The evidence was clear before that this was not so, but now Hassan has actually written in his own words that he has always supported the Muslim insurgency and terrorist activities. What question is left??

  2. Hasan was found guilty of 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder. Keep in mind he was never charged as a terrorist. He will receive the death penalty, which is what he wants to ensure his martyrdom. I think the government should intentionally refrain from putting him to death, because of that.

  3. So, I was reading an article posted by the Boston Globe on the 14th, and this situation infuriated me all over again. Nidal Malik Hasan has consistently maintained that his attack at Fort Hood was an act of war against the United States–that bluntly. A few days before the court martial proceedings began, he relinquished his American citizenship and the oath he took when he became an officer in the U.S. Army. He also notified the judge that he wishes to mount a defense of others, with “others” being the Taliban. In addition, the issue of due process went out the window a long time ago because Hasan openly and repeatedly made it his mission that everyone understands that he commited this act of terrorism to further the Taliban efforts, and fully identified himself as a Jihadist. Obama himself referred to this as a time of war when he eulogized the victims of the shootings. Our government has abandoned the victims and their families to serve their own self-interests.

  4. Amy Skalicky

    Well,Nidal Hasan finally admitted that his actions were to defend the Taliban. Take a look hearts need to be awarded asap!

  5. I’m not sure how anyone could argue that this incident was not a terrorist attack. The shooter had an affiliation with terrorist groups. Every victim should get a Purple Heart, plus medical benefits.

  6. This whole issue makes me sick to my stomach. Anyone who doesn’t think this is a terrorist act or “war act” is absolutely crazy. I hope the government will complete this trial quickly, punish the shooter and take care of the victims. What is this world coming to?

  7. Yes they should get a purple heart. It is disappointing that this is even a subject of discussion. If this attack had taken place overseas there would be no question about their eligibility. I cannot believe we are using the term “work place violence” to gloss over an attack on our Soldiers within the confines of our borders. The facts are simple: Soldiers were killed and wounded by an enemy combatant on our soil. Why should these Soldiers have to fight for a medal or status they earned? Extremely disappointing!

      1. Amy Skalicky

        Justin, I appreciate your last response, as it is very well thought-out, and I do agree that waiting until after the trial is prudent, even though I am at a loss for understanding how anyone thinks that that can truly take place according to the true spirit of the provision. They would have to leave the planet to do justice to this individual’s “right to a fair trial”. I also take exception with our administration’s semantic flip-flopping and other, self-serving motives. I do not believe that preserving the accused’s right to a fair trial to be the prime motivation for handling this as they are.

        Workplace violence is a term used to describe a situation in which the perpetrator has an unresolved issue that ties him to the business he either directly or indirectly attacks. It is insulting that this term is being used here. There is enough evidence demonstrating that Nidal Malik Hasan’s attack was clearly motivated by his religious and political beliefs, regardless of how government officials paint the picture. The definitions (and there are many) of terrorism have not evolved yet to reflect current events. Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism expert at Georgetown University notes the need for a revised definition of terrorism based on “this new strategy of al-Qaeda is to empower and motivate individuals to commit acts of violence completely outside any terrorist chain of command.”

        The emails exchanged with the well-known terrorist (our government’s choice of words) Anwar al-Awlaki were described as legitimate “research”, which raises a whole new set of questions as far as I am concerned, but I will save that for another day. I am convinced the emails were relatively benign on purpose, and that there was a covert conversation taking place within them. In addition, the CIA’s definition of terrorism includes premeditation, and this TERRORIST attack clearly satisfies that condition as well.

        I normally hesitate to publicly venture into debates regarding the nature of the the Muslim religion, which readers can easily research, so I won’t go too deep; HOWEVER, it has long been established and confirmed that Muslims who strictly follow the teachings of the Qur’an are clearly directed to eradicate non-Muslims. For example, The Qur’an states: “Fight and slay the pagans [Christians] wherever ye find them and seize them, confine them, and lie in wait for them in every place of ambush” (Surah 9:5). Muslims see the world in terms of black and white–its all or nothing. If you are not Muslim, you are pagan. Let me just state at this point that there are many Muslims who reject these teachings of the Qur’an and choose to live in peace with the rest of the world, and they are just as much a target as the rest of us. America is the number one enemy (another key word in any of the definitions of the word terrorist). Nidal Malik Hasan obviously fully embraced the complete doctrine of the Qur’an. This, when considered in context with his preparations before the TERRORIST attack, his choice of garments, as well as his behavior during the attack itself, clearly indicates someone with a distinct purpose, and that purpose is very clear to me. It saddens and angers me that our government is tap-dancing around this issue.

        So, YES! full honors and benefits should go to the victims of the TERRORIST attack at Fort Hood, and a very humble apology should be issued immediately to the survivors, their families, and the families of those killed.

  8. Candace Ginestar

    My husband and I were talking about this today. He read something that said that DoD is hesitating to make a decision until the killer has a fair trial, so as not to condemn him beforehand. Once he is convicted then I think the DoD will award purple hearts!

    1. Who knows what will happen. It’s hard to believe he’s been awaiting trial for 3+ years. That must be really hard on all the victim’s families.

      I hope they get their Purple Hearts, and more importantly, the proper health/financial benefits they deserve.

  9. I actually saw this news piece a few days ago and I found it to be a very interesting topic of debate. While I strongly agree with the victims that this is separate from just ordinary “workplace violence” and that their understanding of the MAJ’s actions was an act of terrorism, I do believe that the DoD is correct in holding off until guilt and the facts have been presented. Let’s face it… lawyers are slick, persistent and will do anything to win. I think that while the victims do deserve Purple Hearts, I think that the message that that sends to the defense lawyers is that the DoD accepts (and essentially is accusing) MAJ of being a terrorist before he has stood trial. As much as it may bother us, we must understand the technicalities of the legal system and how unwanted consequences might arise from premature actions. I do not doubt for a second that the second the courts find the MAJ guilty and confirm his connections with terrorist organizations that the victims will not be justifiably rewarded. I think that then, and only then, would the victims have the right to publicly lash out against the DoD and they need to understand their position (the DoD) as well. It is different on the battlefield. We KNOW that those shooting at us are at war and fighting against us. Purple Hearts are awarded very expeditiously then. But in this case, it is much more complicated and things must play out first…

    With that being said…I think the next debate should be concerning Air Force drone pilots earning prestigious awards for piloting drones without facing ANY of the dangers of war at all!

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