Fort Hood attack survivors to get full Purple Heart benefits

Purple Heart recipients Pfc. James Armstrong, left, and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Christopher Royal hug as they look at pictures of co-workers who were killed in the 2009 Fort Hood shooting, prior to a ceremony, Friday, April 10, 2015, at Fort Hood, Texas. Survivors and family members of those killed during the attack were awarded medals: a Purple Heart for military personnel and Defense of Freedom Medals for civilians. (AP Photo/Rodolfo Gonzalez, Pool)
Purple Heart recipients Pfc. James Armstrong, left, and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Christopher Royal hug as they look at pictures of co-workers who were killed in the 2009 Fort Hood shooting, prior to a ceremony, Friday, April 10, 2015, at Fort Hood, Texas. Survivors and family members of those killed during the attack were awarded medals: a Purple Heart for military personnel and Defense of Freedom Medals for civilians. (AP Photo/Rodolfo Gonzalez, Pool)

FORT HOOD, Texas (KXAN) — Survivors of the 2009 attack at Fort Hood will receive benefits they say have been a long time coming. On Nov. 5, 2009, then-Maj. Nidal Hasan opened fire and killed 13 people. He injured 32 others and now sits on death row.

Last week, the shooting survivors and families of the victims received Purple Hearts, but we told you that they worried they would not receive benefits that typically come with the award. The Secretary of the Army sent an order on Thursday saying they will receive every benefit possible.

“In addition to the Purple Heart medal, there are certain other benefits for which Soldiers receiving the Purple Heart are traditionally eligible,” McHugh wrote in an April 14 memorandum. “I intend to ensure that the Soldiers receiving the Purple Heart under the expanded criteria also receive all other related benefits for which they are eligible.”

Among the benefits ordered by McHugh is payment of hostile fire pay for those Purple Heart recipients “killed, injured, or wounded” in the attack, as well as combat-related special compensation for retired soldiers whose disability is attributable to an injury for which they were awarded the Purple Heart.

“After making the determination that the victims of the Fort Hood attack are now eligible for the Purple Heart, it seems only right and fair that these Soldiers also receive the benefits it traditionally entails,” McHugh said.  “That’s why I directed an expedited process to make certain that happens.”

McHugh explained that there may be additional benefits, and that he has directed a review to determine “whether these Soldiers may be entitled to any other benefits or compensation as a result of the award of the Purple Heart.”  A report is due back to the Secretary within 30 days.

In addition to the victims of the Fort Hood shooting, McHugh’s actions would be applicable to a 2009 attack on a Little Rock, Ark., recruiting station where Private William Long was killed, and Private Quinton Ezeagwula wounded. Both will be awarded the Purple Heart following the expanded eligibility criteria mandated by Congress.

The Army is continuing to look into whether there are other soldiers previously determined to be ineligible for the Purple Heart who may now qualify under the expanded criteria.

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