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Senator wants Purple Heart in Arkansas shooting

WASHINGTON — Lawmakers from Texas and Arkansas have been pushing the Army for years to award Purple Hearts to the victims of domestic terrorist attacks such as the 2009 Fort Hood shooting, but have seen little success. Now, Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., said he’ll take up the cause, too.

At a hearing Wednesday, Lieberman said he will try to insert an amendment in the annual defense authorization bill (currently in conference committee) to award a posthumous Purple Heart to Army recruiter Pvt. William Long, who was killed in a brazen 2009 shooting by a radical Islamic adherent. The case drew national headlines but was not technically classified as an international terrorist attack, preventing Long’s family from collecting the military honor.

For the last three years, Texas Republican Rep. John Carter has pushed for similar combat status recognition for the victims of the Fort Hood shooting, where Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan killed 13 base personnel and wounded 43 others in an attack officials believe to be motivated by his radical religious beliefs.

So far, those efforts have been unsuccessful, in part because of controversy surrounding Carter’s bill language dubbing the attack a case of “radical Islamic terrorism.” Lieberman did not offer any specifics on the wording of his amendment, and whether it would also cover the Fort Hood victims.

Lawmakers at Wednesday’s hearing heard testimony from Daris Long, the father of the soldier killed in Arkansas. He said his family felt disrespected and disheartened by the military decision not to fully honor their son’s death with the Purple Heart.

Military officials said they sympathized with Long’s family, but the law as written prohibits awarding medal in this case.

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