FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 6, 2023
POD Calls For Independent Investigation Into Fort Hood Climate & Culture Following the Tragic Death of Private Ana Fernanda Basaldua Ruiz
Nearly three years after previous investigation found Fort Hood leadership allowed a “permissive environment” for sexual assault, advocates call for another independent review
Washington, DC – Today, Protect Our Defenders (POD) – the pre-eminent national human rights organization dedicated to ending sexual violence in the military and combating a culture that has allowed it to persist – is calling on Fort Hood Base Commander, General Sean C. Bernabe, to establish an independent investigation into the command climate and culture at Fort Hood and the surrounding military community after the tragic death of Private Ana Basaldua Ruiz.
Following a string of murders and suicides at Fort Hood, a previous independent investigation found that Fort Hood leadership allowed for a permissive culture of harassment and abuse. As a result, fourteen military leaders were dismissed or suspended. Given Fort Hood’s enduring culture of toxicity and the latest tragedies, it’s imperative that an independent party review be appointed to review the current command climate and culture at the largest military installation in the country.
Protect Our Defenders Vice-Chair, Josh Connolly, former Chief of Staff for Rep. Jackie Speier (former Chairwoman of the Military Personnel Subcommittee on the House Armed Services Committee) released the following statement:
“Fort Hood leadership has had more than enough time and resources to implement the recommendations made following Vanessa Guillén’s murder to improve base culture and better support servicemembers facing sexual violence.
“It is very likely that the toxic culture, including a permissiveness to sexual assault and harassment that was present during Vanessa Guillen’s death persists, and may have contributed to this latest tragedy at Fort Hood. We call on the base commander, General Sean C. Bernabe, to open an independent investigation into the command climate and culture at Fort Hood.
“Servicemembers and the public deserve to know where Fort Hood and the military more broadly are in addressing a history of toxic culture, what the current climate is on base, and assurance that recommendations made in 2021 have in fact been implemented.”