A top Army commander says he hopes that Purple Hearts awarded to dozens of survivors and relatives of soldiers who died in the 2009 Fort Hood shooting gives them closure.
The ceremony Friday took place on the sprawling Texas military post where an Army psychiatrist opened fire on unarmed soldiers and killed 13 people. Many of the medal recipients felt the honor was long overdue.
"I don't think the closure is here, but the recognition is definitely surfacing to the top. Maybe the nation will know what took place here now," said Purple Heart recipient Christopher Royal.
Army Lt. General Sean MacFarland acknowledged that it was likely painful for them to return to the scene of the deadliest mass shooting on a U.S. military base.
"When shots rang out on Fort Hood our soldiers and first responders ran toward the sound of gunfire and performed exactly as they were taught to do," MacFarland said.
After the shooting, the military defined the rampage as workplace violence, leaving many of those killed or wounded without recognition or support.
The Purple Heart award reflects a change in that distinction, recognizing those wounds as combat-related.
The gunman, Nidal Hasan, a former Army psychiatrist, was convicted in 2013 and sentenced to death.
A Fort Hood police officer who shot Hasan to help end the rampage was given the Defense of Freedom medal.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.