Democrat Lawmakers: Conditions at Fort Hood Are Worse Than They Imagined


Image via AP Photo/Tamir Kalifa, File

By Araceli Cruz

September 22, 2020

“I have never seen a location in worse shape or in greater need of an overhaul than Fort Hood,” said Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA).

A group of Democrat lawmakers visited the Fort Hood army base in Texas last Friday, just a few days after receiving bipartisan support for the “I Am Vanessa Guillén” Act, an attempt to reform the way the military responds to reports of sexual harassment and sexual assault.

The mission of the visit was to investigate the Army’s “botched response” to the disappearance and murder of soldier Vanessa Guillén, and the deaths of other servicemembers, including Gregory Wedel Morales, Elder Fernandes and Freddy Delacruz under suspicious circumstances this year. The lawmakers came out of their visit with a bleak view of the questioned Texas base. 

RELATED: The Military Could Finally See Sweeping Changes Under the ‘I Am Vanessa Guillén’ Act

“After talking with servicemembers of every rank and station, I have come away with more questions than answers and even more grave concerns about the health, welfare, and safety of the brave women and men who serve there,” Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) and Chair of the House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee said in a statement

Speier added that Fort Hood is in the “worse shape” of the numerous military installations she has visited in her 10-year span on the House Armed Services Committee. The California legislator also noted that the nearly $1 billion the Department of Defense has spent over a decade to address the rampant sexual harassment and assault cases in the Army hasn’t produced the expected results. 

“I strongly believe the systemic problems at Fort Hood require further congressional oversight, which is why I will return to the base in a few months and continue to hold leadership to account,” Rep. Speier added. 

The lawmakers reported that nearly 30 servicemembers at the base have died, including eight killed in accidents, six suicides, five homicides, and two related to illness. The cause of at least six other deaths is undetermined. 

Aside from Rep. Speier, the Fort Hood visit included Reps. Veronica Escobar (D-TX), Gil Cisneros (D-CA), Jason Crow (D-CO), Stephen Lynch (D-MA), Katherine Clark (D-MA), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), and Sylvia Garcia (D-TX). 

RELATED: US Congress Officially Launches Investigation Into Fort Hood Deaths

“Our congressional oversight trip to Fort Hood was concerning and upsetting,” Rep. Cisneros said. “In talking to our soldiers, it’s clear that there need to be improvements made, from reporting sexual harassment and assault to military base housing to overall morale.”

After the visit, Fort Hood officials reinstated that the past several months have been difficult and challenging at Fort Hood, but changes are being implemented. 

“We will work collectively with our communities, Fort Hood units, U.S. Army Forces Command, the Department of the Army, and our elected officials to address these complex and challenging issues,” said Maj. Gen. John B. Richardson IV, III Corps deputy commanding general in a statement


CATEGORIES: Law and Policy | Military


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