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Fort Hood victims on path to receive Purple Hearts

The Senate has shown support of the change in the act and is expected to pass it next week.

By Danielle Haynes

WASHINGTON, Dec. 5 (UPI) -- The victims of the 2009 Fort Hood shooting may soon be eligible to receive Purple Heart medals after the House on Thursday agreed to add language to the National Defense Authorization Act.

The language would amend Purple Heart requirements so the medal and its accompanying benefits could be awarded "to service members who are victims of an attack that was inspired or motivated by a U.S. State Department-designated foreign terrorist organization," Reps. Roger Williams and John Carter, both Texas Republicans, announced.

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The Senate has shown support of the change in the act and is expected to pass it next week.

The U.S. Defense Department has come under fire since the 2009 shooting that left 13 people dead -- including a pregnant soldier -- and injured 32 for declining to give the Purple Heart to the victims of the attack.

Witnesses to the attack said Army Maj. Nidal Hasan -- who was sentenced to death for the shootings -- shouted Muslim phrases as he shot his fellow soldiers. He had also been in contact with known U.S.-born terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki. Because of this, lawmakers last year sought to have the Defense Department reclassify the incident as a religiously instigated terror attack, making the victims and their families eligible for more benefits.

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Some critics of the Defense Department said politicians avoided calling the shooting a terrorist attack out of political correctness.

"This has been a top priority for my Texas colleagues and me ever since the tragic attack in 2009. I am relieved that the victims and families of the 2009 Fort Hood shooting are finally nearing justice and closure," Carter said in a release. "The fight for the victims of the 2009 Fort Hood shooting has been long and hard, but I am always honored to go to battle for the men and women who serve this great country."

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