Fort Hood has highest rates of murders and sexual assaults among soldiers
Fort Hood has the highest cases of soldier murders and sexual assaults among all Army installments, officials said Thursday, as they planned to investigate the military base.
Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy pledged to address the “root causes” of the assaults and series of soldier deaths during a visit to the Killeen, Texas, base on Thursday.
Some of the tragedies include the murder of soldier Vanessa Guillen, 20, who was killed and mutilated near the base by fellow soldier Aaron Robinson before he took his own life.
“I’ve met over the last 24 hours with soldiers of every echelon … and told them that were are sending down an independent group of investigators to understand the root causes associated with the rise of felonies, violent acts, to better understand why this is happening in this installation,” McCarthy said.
At least five soldiers have been found dead around the base this year. McCarthy acknowledged Fort Hood has “the highest, in most cases,” reports of murders, sexual assaults and harassment throughout the Army.
The secretary said he’s hoping the independent investigation will determine whether there is a culture that fosters the abuse and violence and said the Army would hold anyone accountable if they’re found to be upholding that culture.
“We are getting an outside look to help us to get to those root causes and understanding so we can make those changes,” he said. “The point of emphasis being that we are going to put every resource and all of the energy we can in this entire institution behind fixing these problems.”
Guillen’s death rocked the nation and drew renewed attention to the culture around sexual harassment within the military and, specifically, to the alarming number of deaths at Fort Hood.
Her killing prompted the Army to launch the investigation into her death and any links to sexual harassment at the base. Meanwhile, other survivors have come forward on social media to share their own sexual trauma while in the military, using the hashtag #IamVanessaGuillen.
An “#IAmVanessaGuillen” bill has been drafted to help victims of sexual harassment in the military to more easily report their claims.
“I’m markedly disappointed and saddened by that one of our own killing a teammate,” McCarthy said, regarding Guillen’s death. “It takes a shot at the system, it rattles the system of trust that you have to have in this profession because of just how hard it is what we do around the world.”
McCarthy added that “sexual assault … has been a challenge or the whole country as well as the US Army.”
He said the best way to address the assaults was to have “very hard conversations” with leadership and constant dialogue with troops to understand what they’re experiencing.
“The conversations don’t end; we have to keep doing them,” he said.
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