AUSTIN, Texas - On Friday, the U.S. Army Public Affairs announced that the Secretary of the Army has directed an independent, comprehensive review of the command climate and culture at Fort Hood, as well as the surrounding military community.
Army Secy. Ryan D. McCarthy met with members of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and two members of Congress to discuss the loss of Specialist Vanessa Guillen and issues raised because of the investigation.
“I want to express my condolences to the Guillen family. We are saddened and deeply troubled by the loss of one of our own, Spc. Vanessa Guillen. I would like to thank the League of United Latin American Citizens for meeting with us today and their continued commitment to honor the memory of Spc. Guillen and in helping the Army identify and address challenges Hispanic service members face. Additionally, I’d like to thank Rep. Sylvia Garcia and Rep. Gil Cisneros for their support for our troops and their special interest in ensuring justice for Vanessa,” McCarthy said.
The Army says that it will hire four "highly qualified expert" civilian consultants that will form a panel and spend an estimated five to ten days at Fort Hood.
The consultants will review historical data, such as command climate surveys, Inspector General reports, criminal/military justice reports and sexual harassment and sexual assault response program statistics.
"The purpose of this independent review is to determine whether the command climate and culture at Fort Hood, and the surrounding military community, reflects Army values, including respect, inclusiveness, and workplaces free from sexual harassment," the Army said in a press release.
The announcement comes after U.S. Rep. Sylvia Garcia signed a letter with 87 other Congressional members in support of U.S Senator Kristen Gillibrand and Rep. Jackie Speier calling for an independent investigation by the Department of Defense into the circumstances surrounding Guillen's death including allegations of sexual harassment.
"The Army’s strength comes from our diverse force and we must increase our efforts to ensure that we are representative of the nation. McCarthy said he wants to ensure the Army is a more inclusive organization and he wants to strengthen the Army’s relationship with LULAC and the Hispanic community as a whole," the Army stated.
The Army also states that Under Secretary of the Army James E. McPherson and the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Joseph M. Martin will co-chair an implementation team that will consider every recommendation that the panel puts forth.