Should the victims of Fort Hood receive a Purple Heart?

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Bill Mattocks

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Has it been determined that he was in fact a "plant" of some terrorist force? Or was he just a mal-adjusted psychopath that chose to murder a bunch of innocent people. that distinction makes a huge difference.

Probably not to the people who got shot. I'm guessing the bullets from psychos shouting "Allah Ahkbar" and the terrorists shouting "Allah Ahkbar" feel just about the same. I could be wrong, I haven't been shot by either.
 

grydth

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I doubt any difference is made, or even sought, for awards based upon terror attacks in the Middle East.

Some of these suicide bombers appear to be formally trained and associated with al-Qaeda. They have been to camps, equipped and directed to specific targets. But other attackers seem to be locals, with unclear affiliations.

Would anyone contend that soldiers killed by the latter should not receive the Purple Heart?

I contend that we need to recognize that "terror" requires a much broader and looser definition of what an "enemy" and their action is......It may be a skilled operative like Atta, or an impressionable kid used by a local warlord - - - or a kooky unstable American who seizes upon Internet Jihad nonsense and decides to join them on his own terms.

Everybody would agree a soldier killed in a gunfight should get the PH. But how about a guy relaxing at base who's unlucky enough to be hit in a rocket or mortar attack? They get them, too..... so the activity the soldier is engaged in isn't determinative, either.
 

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Do you have any other medals that could be appropriate? We have nothing for being wounded in action though there has been calls for something similiar to your Purple Heart.
 

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Unless Maj. Hassan is discovered to be a full fledged "terrorist", affilliated with an actual cell or org. I don't think he qualifies as an "enemy combatant" as much as he qualifies as a criminal. If it was a non-Islamic "nut" who did the shooting would we be having this discussion?
 
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Bill Mattocks

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Unless Maj. Hassan is discovered to be a full fledged "terrorist", affilliated with an actual cell or org. I don't think he qualifies as an "enemy combatant" as much as he qualifies as a criminal. If it was a non-Islamic "nut" who did the shooting would we be having this discussion?

From what we've been hearing about the people we're fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, the term 'insurgent' is becoming popular, because the 'terrorist' label doesn't apply to them particularly well.

But as far as the 'terrorist' label goes, in what way are Major Hasan's purported beliefs different from that of a terrorist?

And does it make sense to award or deny a medal based on what one's attacker was thinking when he attacked? "Oh, yeah, he shot you whilst screaming the battle cry of our enemy, and yes, he believes all the same stuff they believe, and yes, he said that he was commanded by his God to do it just like they do, but he was crazy, see. Not terrorist crazy but a different kind of crazy. So, sorry."
 

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I doubt any difference is made, or even sought, for awards based upon terror attacks in the Middle East.

Some of these suicide bombers appear to be formally trained and associated with al-Qaeda. They have been to camps, equipped and directed to specific targets. But other attackers seem to be locals, with unclear affiliations.

Would anyone contend that soldiers killed by the latter should not receive the Purple Heart?

I contend that we need to recognize that "terror" requires a much broader and looser definition of what an "enemy" and their action is......It may be a skilled operative like Atta, or an impressionable kid used by a local warlord - - - or a kooky unstable American who seizes upon Internet Jihad nonsense and decides to join them on his own terms.

Everybody would agree a soldier killed in a gunfight should get the PH. But how about a guy relaxing at base who's unlucky enough to be hit in a rocket or mortar attack? They get them, too..... so the activity the soldier is engaged in isn't determinative, either.

True, on all counts. In this instance, it is going to require a judgement call from a higher authority to determine if this was in fact "enemy action" or an attack against the United States.

What we need to consider is that the regulation is law. If you haven't read it, but are offering an opinion, I strongly suggest that you read the entire purple heart paragraph. Remember, the Purple Heart is one of the few awards that is not recommened - it is entitled based on a set of criteria. In an international incident, the President is the awarding authority. In a combat zone, that authority is delegated to the Combatant Commander (making combat zone awards a bit easier...less levels of review to go through).

We have kicked around the word terrorist and terror attack, but the reg clearly states that the attack must be "the result of an international terrorist attack against the United States or a foreign nation friendly to the United States, recognized as such an attack by the Secretary of Army, or jointly by the Secretaries of the separate armed services concerned if persons from more than one service are wounded in the attack." So it is black and white...if this meets that criteria, they get it. If it doesn't, they don't.

So honestly, it doesn't matter if they "deserve it" or if someone thinks that "gee, it would be nice if they got it." They have to fall into the criteria and to the best of my knowledge, no determination has been made. I just received a public release intel report on the incident, but I doubt that it will include a classification of the incident.
 

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Do you have any other medals that could be appropriate? We have nothing for being wounded in action though there has been calls for something similiar to your Purple Heart.

There are several medals that can be recommended. Personally, I think that they should receive CABs. Combat Action Badges - it is easier to get and the approval authority is lower and from what I can tell, the criteria are a little looser when it comes to determining enemy action. There are also several medals that can be awarded for various types of action, but if you were just an innocent bystander....probably not.
 

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Unless Maj. Hassan is discovered to be a full fledged "terrorist", affilliated with an actual cell or org. I don't think he qualifies as an "enemy combatant" as much as he qualifies as a criminal. If it was a non-Islamic "nut" who did the shooting would we be having this discussion?

Agreed - if he "looked like us" then we wouldn't be having this. I really feel that he was a psychopath...and people are using his religion, race, and skin color to make this attack more than it was.

There was just an article in Airman Magazine about an Air Force Imam (Islamic Chaplain) who has been repeatedly assaulted and discriminated against his entire career - because is a muslim and is pretty obvious about it....being a chaplain and all. He is a chaplain of what is, at its base, a peaceful religion that has been demented by extremists to advance political objectives.

I'm sure that you can quote plenty of media articles about how people suspect that he had contact with this country, etc....I don't believe the media anymore on this issue than I do on any other issue. As much as we like to rely on them, they are just trying to generate profit. I just read one saying that Hasan had "contact with muslim terrorists." It was his imam who went back to saudi....he might have been a terrorist or an islamic extremist...but as far as I'm concerned, Hasan acted alone.

Please don't misunderstand here, he is a psycopath and should be put to death or made to suffer for the rest of his natural life for the attrocities that he committed. There is no excuse...I really just don't think that this was some coordinated terrorist attack on the country. I think that it was a misguided, screwed up individual with a lot of issues who took it out in the worst way possible and will now pay the consequences. Hopefully they will send him to Leavenworth, and the prisoners there will take care of him.
 
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Bill Mattocks

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Agreed - if he "looked like us" then we wouldn't be having this. I really feel that he was a psychopath...and people are using his religion, race, and skin color to make this attack more than it was.

There was just an article in Airman Magazine about an Air Force Imam (Islamic Chaplain) who has been repeatedly assaulted and discriminated against his entire career - because is a muslim and is pretty obvious about it....being a chaplain and all. He is a chaplain of what is, at its base, a peaceful religion that has been demented by extremists to advance political objectives.

I'm sure that you can quote plenty of media articles about how people suspect that he had contact with this country, etc....I don't believe the media anymore on this issue than I do on any other issue. As much as we like to rely on them, they are just trying to generate profit. I just read one saying that Hasan had "contact with muslim terrorists." It was his imam who went back to saudi....he might have been a terrorist or an islamic extremist...but as far as I'm concerned, Hasan acted alone.

Please don't misunderstand here, he is a psycopath and should be put to death or made to suffer for the rest of his natural life for the attrocities that he committed. There is no excuse...I really just don't think that this was some coordinated terrorist attack on the country. I think that it was a misguided, screwed up individual with a lot of issues who took it out in the worst way possible and will now pay the consequences. Hopefully they will send him to Leavenworth, and the prisoners there will take care of him.

I'm just a little unclear here on what the actual difference is between a 'terrorist' and a 'psychopath' when they both espouse religious reasons for their violent actions. Given that most suicide bombers aren't actually the intellectuals and leaders of their groups, but rather tend to be ignorant, illiterate, dupes who are pumped up on religious rhetoric and promised an eternal reward, it kind of looks to me like the textbook definition of a 'terrorist' would include 'psychopath' as one of the contributing factors. I have trouble thinking of a terrorist as being otherwise mentally well.

The only real difference I can see in your description above is that Major Hasan appears to have acted alone and was not guided from afar. Is that what makes the difference between a 'terrorist attack' and a 'lone religious psycho'? His attack was not 'coordinated' in that sense.
 

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Here's the thing.....as much as I WANT to say "Hell yes they deserve it! They should get every honor possible." I know that the Purple heart is generally not reserved for this type of situation. As I said, there ARE exceptions and I do hope that they get it.

You just have to realize that if it is awarded, it is for one of two reasons. 1) An exception to policy was mad 2) The awarding official (The President) determined that this was in fact an act of terror as a result of a war.

Unfortunately, as I see it, this is a crime. He was a psychopath and was seriously unbalanced....and he committed homicide.
So far, this would qualify as a mass murder at most. Terrorism has a specific definition; the use of force or threatened use of force to obtain political, social, or economic goals. The actions of a lone individual, even if motivated by religion, without the attempt to influence politics doesn't qualify. The Unabomber only became a terrorist towards the end of his chain of bombings, when he published his manifesto. Timothy Mcveigh was not a terrorist. An idiot who shoots an abortion doctor trying to stop all abortions is a terrorist; he's looking for that social change.

Right now, the evidence I'm aware of suggests that Nidal Hasan was motivated in part by either his religion or treatment he had received because of his religion -- but he wasn't trying to change anything or even make a serious statement. He was expressing whatever was in his own messed up head.

I'm all for the men and women involved being recognized. But they aren't eligible for the Purple Heart.
 

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I was just writing about that! First off, there is no military accepted standard definition of terrorist. In the case of the purple heart, the approving authority would make the call as to whether this qualified as an international terrorist incident (note, the reg saying international, Hasan was an American). In general, a terrorist incident is one in which civilians are intentionally targetted to forward a political agenda. here is a great article on the subject and he makes a great point, which you also allude to, Bill. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article23933.htm

We keep focusing on some religious aspect. First of all, the purple heart makes no distinction about religion, neither does the US Military. In fact, a terrorist attack, doesn't have any link to religion. Religion is simply a belief system held by the attacker, now, it may be the reason for the attack, but they are separate. If use religion as a standard, then many other incidents fall under this heading, meaning that the crusades were terrorist attacks, among many other attorcities committed in the name of religion.

I would say that you are right, when we talk about acting alone that really makes the difference. A terrorist, in general is workign toward a greater political goal mainly as a part of some larger organization or grouping of people, such as Al Quaeda.

Remember that most terrorists are not psychopaths. We may say that based on our cultural views, but these people come from a different culture. You have to realize that in their culture (therefore, their entire life and upbringing - if they were raised in an extremist sect), they are taught that killing infidels is good and you will be rewarded. I use the term psychopath loosely, without reference to an actual definition...it just seems to fit my needs, but I do think that he is mentally unbalanced in one way or another. A religious extremist that commits mass murder is in his right mind, it was a premeditated, thought out act, not the result of mental illness or imbalance. It was a result of what we Americans call a bad culture.
 

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There wasn't anything "friendly" about this jerk's fire.

As far as I'm concerned he's a f'n traitor and did what he did in service of the enemy.

In that case, the soldiers deserve the medal and he deserves execution by firing squad... once he heals up. LOL
 

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There wasn't anything "friendly" about this jerk's fire.

As far as I'm concerned he's a f'n traitor and did what he did in service of the enemy.

In that case, the soldiers deserve the medal and he deserves execution by firing squad... once he heals up. LOL

There's NEVER anything friendly about any fire that kills someone, but it still fits the definition - blue on blue kill. It just doesn't fit into that category of during combat.
 

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The Purple Heart is not a medal that anyone wants, obviously. Most people that I know how have gotten them don't care too much about them. Honestly, the idea of a purple heart is a very old idea as it is one of our older awards (not in its current iteration), but I never really understood it, quite honestly. It doesn't recognize heroism, it doesn't recognize an accomplishment, it doesn't recognize any specific action, other than presence. Granted, you were present in a war zone (which was the original intention), but many people who get them were just in the wrong place and at the wrong time. We all have this heroic vision of purple heart winners being guys who were running screaming at the enemy with their KABAR in their teeth, guns blazing and take a bullet and keep running. But more often than not, these days anyway, it is a solider on a convoy that hits an IED, or someone asleep in their tent, or a stray bullet flies through the fence line.

It is the 11th highest honor that we give out and in most cases will sit at the top of your ribbon rack. But for my troops, it doesn't earn them any points toward promotion, it doesn't help their OPR/EPR (performance report), it doesn't get them a pay raise. It means that they survived (if it is on their uniform) or were killed in action. It is probably the most solemn award that we have.

It almost seems like some people think that it is an award for valor or for some heroic action or that it is simple owed to anyone in the military who is injured (no longer awarded to civilians, so what about the civilians who were killed?). It isn't.

In its earliest history, it was awarded for meritorius service, but with the invention of the legion of merit, it is no longer given for any kind of meritorius or heroic act. It is now only awarded due to a wound, injury, or death. It was also relatively low in the ranking of ribbons until 1985, when it was moved above the meritorius service medals.

It just seems odd to me to say that someone "deserves" the medal, as a person doesn't do any specific action to earn it. It is an entitlement, not an actual award. We just gave one to an airman who came back from Iraq due to injuries and as far as he's concerned, he wishes he had never gotten it.

I'm not putting it down or anything, it is just that it has its place, like any other medal or ribbon and I just don't think that it fits the purpose, based on the ARMY REGULATION. And like it or not, opinion doesn't come into it....only the regulation comes into it. The awarding authority will read the reg and make a determination based on interpretation. Every time that I've written a Decoration for something (Purple hearts have no written dec associated, it is a generic statement)
 

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I can very much see where people are coming from on this and MBuzzy's post was a very good one. As I said there's been calls here for a medal for our injured and dead troops, we only have medals for bravery plus campaign medals.
The situation here is that the public see a wounded soldier and feel that recognition should be made to him, it tends to come from a feeling of helplessness that there's nothing we can do but knowing something should be done.
What happens here is that we raise money to help victims, it's not that we think money sorts everything but it's a way ordinary people can express sympathy and wanting to help.
 

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And like it or not, opinion doesn't come into it....only the regulation comes into it. The awarding authority will read the reg and make a determination based on interpretation.

I thank MBuzzy for clarifying the history, status and regulations surrounding this honor. Having never served in the military, I found this information enlightening.

However, as a civilian, and a humble observer of "the way things are", I'll bet you that regardless of the typical or traditional interpretations of these regs, in a case with this high a political profile and publicity, the regulations will be interpreted so that the dead and wounded do receive this honor.

Either way....That is, whether or not this is the appropriate medal, I fully support honoring the wounded and fallen.
 

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I thank MBuzzy for clarifying the history, status and regulations surrounding this honor. Having never served in the military, I found this information enlightening.

However, as a civilian, and a humble observer of "the way things are", I'll bet you that regardless of the typical or traditional interpretations of these regs, in a case with this high a political profile and publicity, the regulations will be interpreted so that the dead and wounded do receive this honor.

Either way....That is, whether or not this is the appropriate medal, I fully support honoring the wounded and fallen.

True, and they will most certainly be honored, just as any soldier is when killed while serving. It is just the matter of the posthumous award of a PH. See, I doubt that they will get a purple heart, maybe some other medal, but I doubt it. I just polled the guys in my shop here (12 military, 2 civilians both former military), only one guy thinks that they should get it and his opinion is close to many of yours. If Hasan is determined to be "the enemy" and this was an "attack on the United States" then they can get it. It will be interesting to see how it turns out based on the current climate and situation.
 
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