WASHINGTON — Arkansas lawmakers on Thursday urged Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to issue a report now on whether two Arkansas soldiers shot outside a Little Rock recruiting office five years ago are eligible for the Purple Heart.

WASHINGTON — Arkansas lawmakers on Thursday urged Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to issue a report now on whether two Arkansas soldiers shot outside a Little Rock recruiting office five years ago are eligible for the Purple Heart.


In a letter sent to Hagel, the state’s four House members said that delaying the report another year — as the Pentagon announced in June — is unacceptable.


"Given that it has been more than 5 years since these attacks, we find it unacceptable that DoD has delayed this review for yet another year," they wrote.


The Pentagon was supposed to issue a report at the beginning of July as to whether U.S. Army Pvt. William "Andy" Long of Conway and Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula of Jacksonville, are eligible to receive the Purple Heart. Long was killed, and Ezeagwula injured outside a Little Rock recruiting center in 2009.


The report, required under a defense authorization bill signed into law last December, was also supposed to review Purple Heart eligibility for the 13 killed and 32 wounded during a 2009 attack at Fort Hood, Texas.


Congress required the six-month study after the Pentagon had refused to award Purple Hearts to the shooting victims because the incidents were not considered combat-related. The Arkansas delegation, which has been pushing for the recognition since 2011, argued that as victims of terrorist attacks they should be eligible.


The Pentagon notified Congress in June that it planned to hold off on issuing a report until July 2015. The department planned to include the Purple Heart criteria in a broader review of military decorations and awards that it is now conducting.


"We find this continued inaction by the DoD disgraceful, as well as unlawful," the House delegation wrote Hagel. "We urge you to exercise your authority to complete this report and honor these men and women with the award they have earned."


Signing the letter were: Reps. Tim Griffin, R-Little Rock, Steve Womack, R-Rogers, Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, and Tom Cotton, R-Dardanelle.


Sens. John Boozman, R-Ark., and Mark Pryor, D-Ark., were not part of the letter but have sponsored legislation in the past to award the Purple Heart to the two Arkansas soldiers.


The delegation took up the cause after Long’s father, Daris Long, testified in 2011 before a joint hearing of the House and Senate homeland security committees about his son’s death.