FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 16, 2023
POD Calls on Biden Administration and Congress to Scrutinize Fort Hood Investigation Following the Tragic Death of Private Ana Fernanda Basaldua Ruiz
Private Basalduaruiz’s death comes nearly three years after an independent investigation at Fort Hood found Army leadership fostered a permissive environment for sexual assault
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 Congress to hold Fort Hood leadership accountable following the disturbing news of Private Ana Basaldua Ruiz’s death after reports of sexual harassment by her superior.
Nearly three years ago, an independent investigation into a number of deaths at Fort Hood, including the tragic murder of Vanessa Guillén, found that Army leadership fostered a “permissive environment” allowing for sexual assault, harrasment, and violence to go unchecked. The report detailed Army leadership’s consistent failures to address known instances of sexual assault and violence through both investigating crimes and providing support to victims of assault. Fourteen Army leaders at Fort Hood were removed or suspended as a result of the report.
Given Fort Hood’s deep history promoting a culture of violence, it’s critical the Biden Administration, as well as both the House and Senate Armed Services committee, remain vigilant during the investigation of Private Basalduaruiz’s death to ensure justice is served.
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:
“News of this most recent tragedy took me right back to the day I learned of Vanessa Guillen’s horrific murder. What compounded that tragedy was a shoddy investigation, poor communication with the family, an incompetent response from law enforcement, and a toxic environment at Fort Hood that was beyond imagining.
“The Biden Administration and Congress – specifically Senator Reed (D-RI) and Representative Rogers (R-Al) as respective chairs of the Senate and House Armed Services Committee – must get to the bottom of what happened to Ana and why. We must also make sure the same inexcusable mistakes made before and after Vanessa’s death are not repeated. Leadership at Fort Hood must also inform Ana’s parents and the public if she was a victim of harassment or assault.”