Miss. Senator Cosponsored Bill to Award to Purple Heart to Victims of Deadly 2009 Domestic Attack

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and its Subcommittee on Defense, today praised a decision by the U.S. Army to extend benefits to victims of the 2009 attack at Fort Hood who were awarded the Purple Heart.

Secretary of the Army John McHugh has directed the Army to provide benefits associated with the Purple Heart to victims of the terrorist attack at Fort Hood. Cochran cosponsored the Honoring the Fort Hood Heroes Act to make victims of the November 2009 terrorist attack at Fort Hood eligible to receive the Purple Heart. Provisions of that bill, authored by Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), were included in the FY2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that was enacted in December.

“The Fort Hood attack showed us that the terrorist threat to our men and women in uniform continues to evolve. Congress recognized that and rightfully changed the criteria for receiving the Purple Heart and associated benefits,” Cochran said. “I’m pleased that Secretary McHugh and the Department of Defense are actively working to honor and assist the victims and their survivors.”

According to the Army, McHugh’s action will include “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.”

Before the retroactive changes enacted by the NDAA, the Purple Heart medal was awarded to service members killed or wounded “as the result of an international terrorist attack against the United States.” The Cornyn-authored language updated the definition of international terrorist attack to include a terrorist attack that was inspired or motivated by al Qaeda or another U.S. State Department-designated foreign terrorist organization, and one prior to which the attacker was in communication with the terrorist group.