Bill would award Texas Purple Heart to Fort Hood victims

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A bill is in the hopper at the state Capitol that would award the Texas Purple Heart to the Fort Hood shooting victims of Nidal Hassan.

Leading the effort is State Rep. Tony Dale of Cedar Park.

“This attack was first listed as ‘workplace violence’, and I thought it was important to honor the folks that were injured and killed there at Fort Hood in what was clearly a terrorist attack with this award,” said Dale.

After more than five years, Dale is frustrated at the slow federal response in handing out to Fort Hood victims who are eligible for Purple Hearts.

“I thought that we could perhaps push the federal government a little bit by taking the lead here in Texas and trying to award the Texas Purple Heart,” said Dale.

The President signed a Defense Appropriations Bill on Dec. 19, 2014, which authorized the federal Fort Hood Heroes Act. But the Pentagon is still in the process of reviewing applications for the Purple Heart.

Dale said this is about Texans honoring Texans that were serving here in Texas that were killed and wounded in the 2009 shooting.

“If you ask a family member of someone who lost anyone, they’ll tell you they just don’t want you to forget who their loved one was,” said Leila Hunt Willingham, sister to one of the murdered soldiers.

With 79 cosponsors for his bill, the measure to approve the Texas Purple Hearts is virtually guaranteed to pass. The medal, rich in symbolism, would go to all victims, not just those from Texas.

“The Texas Purple Heart Medal of course has a purple ribbon, there’s a heart that hangs below it that is gold, and has the Alamo displayed on the medal, as well as the Lone Star with the wreath around it,” said Dale.

Dale’s bill has a special number, HB 115. It’s a reminder of the date of the murders, Nov. 5.

Victims of the shooting were also honored Thursday in a special tree planting. Seeds from the 9-11 Memorial “Survivor Tree” in New York City were brought to Fort Hood. The tree was the only surviving tree at Ground Zero after the attack. Organizers hope this memorial will help the victims and their families.

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