Five years after the deadly mass shooting at Fort Hood, military and civilian victims are finally eligible for honors and benefits.

Secretary of the Army John McHugh announced Friday that victims of the November 5, 2009 mass shooting at the post’s Soldier Readiness Processing Center can receive the Purple Heart or, in the case of civilians, the Defense of Freedom medal. The announcement came after Congress passed a piece of funding legislation requiring the Defense Department to broaden its definition of an attack on American soil by a foreign terrorist organization.

The 2009 attack was initially described as an act of “workplace violence”, despite evidence that shooter Nidal Hasan was in contact with Anwar al-Awlaki and other radical Islamic representatives overseas.

In a written statement Friday, McHugh said, “The Purple Heart's strict eligibility criteria had prevented us from awarding it to victims of the horrific attack at Fort Hood. Now that Congress has changed the criteria, we believe there is sufficient reason to allow these men and women to be awarded and recognized.”

Representative John Carter, who led the effort to award Fort Hood victims honors and benefits, also released a statement following the announcement.

"This has been a long, hard fight," he said. "The victims of this attack have struggled, suffered and been abandoned by this Administration. No more. Today is a day of victory and I am honored to have fought on their behalf."

13 people were killed and 30 wounded during the shooting. Hasan’s trial was highly controversial, with several delays hindering prosecution for years. In 2013, Hasan was found guilty of 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder and sentenced to death. He is currently being held at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas awaiting appeal.

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