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The U.S. Army announced Friday that it will award the Purple Heart to the victims of the 2009 Fort Hood killings after years of pressure to designate the shooting as a terrorist attack.

Army Secretary John McHugh said presenting the Purple Heart to victims is “an appropriate recognition of their service and sacrifice.”

“The Purple Heart’s strict eligibility criteria had prevented us from awarding it to victims of the horrific attack at Fort Hood,” Mr. McHugh said in a Defense Department release. “Now that Congress has changed the criteria, we believe there is sufficient reason to allow these men and women to be awarded and recognized with either the Purple Heart or, in the case of civilians, the Defense of Freedom medal.”