Proposal to allow Ft. Hood victims to receive Purple Heart - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Proposal to allow Ft. Hood victims to receive Purple Heart

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Four years ago, 13 Fort Hood soldiers and civilians were gun down in what the Department of Defense has labeled a case of work place violence.

Tuesday, a State Representative announced he will introduce legislation to give the military victims something the federal government won't - Purple Hearts.

The medals under consideration were authorized by state lawmakers back in 2005. They are just for Texans who are deployed by the federal government during a time of conflict. When the legislature reconvenes in a little more than a year from now a onetime modification to the rules will be considered.

With the Cedar Park Veterans Memorial as his backdrop State Representative Tony Dale (R) Cedar Park said the Fort Hood shooting victims need to be recognized as casualties of War.

"I announce I intend to file, as my first Bill in the next legislative session, an act to award the Texas Purple Heart medal to the military victims of the Fort Hood Shooting," said Rep. Tony Dale.

For Rep. Dale to do this eligibility rules must be amended. The Texas Purple Heart medal was created in 2005 to honor only state National Guard members. With the image of the Alamo and a Lone Star on it - the medal is similar to the one awarded by the Department of Defense.

On November 5th, 2009, moments before the chaos erupted on Fort Hood witnesses said Maj. Nidal Hasan began his rampage, in a troop processing center, by shouting in Arabic god is great. He killed 13 and wounded more than 30. The DOD classified the attack as Workplace Violence not an Act of Terrorism.

"I'm as frustrated as anybody about Washington DC and their failure to act in many different areas, and this is just another example," said Dale.

Howard Ray who was on Post to rehab a war injury saved nine lives. Tuesday he joined the Purple Heart effort. If the legislation is approved he will not get a medal because he wasn't wounded. Ray says he was at the announcement to represent the families who would qualify. Many no longer live near the post.

"It's an incredible insult to all those that were there that day that this would still be classified as something other than what it was," said Ray.

The Cedar Park Republican wants the awarding of the medal to be more than a symbolic gesture, and more than a memorial. He wants to shame Congress into action. Legislation to reclassify the attack was announced earlier this year by Texas Senator John Cornyn and Rep. John Carter introduced a companion bill in the U.S. House of Representatives. Reclassifying will not only help the serviceman and women who were caught up in the incident, Rep. Dale says the civilian casualties will also be helped.

"The Federal Act will cover then as well, in terms of benefits that they'd be qualified for, and their families will be qualified for," said Dale.

Winning federal approval is expected to be much more difficult than getting the rules amended for the Texas Purple Heart.

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