Violence Against Women

Army Reprimands Senior Officials After Murder and Assault at Fort Hood

CW: murder, sexual misconduct

Yesterday, the Army announced that 14 senior officers will receive punishment following the investigation of the death of Vanessa Guillén. This is one of the largest disciplinary actions ever taken by the service to date.

These 14 officers will be relieved or suspended from their positions, after a probe was initiated in response to Guillén’s death and whether she was sexually harassed. She disappeared on April 22, and her remains were finally found on June 30. She had been bludgeoned to death, and her murderer killed himself on July 1. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said that her death “shocked our conscious and brought attention to deeper problems…The initial investigation into Vanessa’s death, coupled with high numbers of crimes and deaths at Fort Hood, has revealed a series of missteps and multiple failures in our system and within our leadership”.

The probe review found that senior personnel are not paying enough attention to the troops’ welfare, particular in regard to searches for missing soldiers, sexual assault, and sexual harassment cases. The report had nine findings and 70 recommendations in total, all of which McCarthy has accepted. Additionally, Major Gen. Scott Efflandt was removed from his position as the Fort’s senior commander in September and has since been relieved.

The Guillén family attorney, Natalie Khawam, stated that “If you’re going to tell me that the Army is messed up or Fort Hood is messed up or something is wrong, tell me what you’re doing to fix it…When somebody speaks up and they get punished for speaking up, that’s un-American. It was widespread at Fort Hood. Things aren’t complete, they’re not finalized. We’re not finished. We are just starting.”

Sources: CNN 7/10/20, CNN 12/8/20, NPR 12/8/20