Army Names Independent Panel In Fort Hood Review, Following Vanessa Guillen Killing

Jul 30, 2020
Originally published on July 31, 2020 12:24 am

The U.S. Army on Thursday named its five-person civilian panel that will conduct a review of the culture at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas, following the death and dismemberment of a 20-year-old soldier who had been stationed at the base.

"The Army is committed to taking care of our Soldiers, civilians, families, and Soldiers for life, and this independent review will explore the current command climate and culture at Fort Hood," Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy said in a statement.

The members of the panel are: Chris Swecker, Jonathan Harmon, Carrie Ricci, Queta Rodriguez and Jack White. Their findings will be submitted to Under Secretary of the Army James McPherson and Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Joseph Martin, who will review the results and decide what, if any, changes to implement.

The panel is convening in response to the killing of 20-year-old soldier Vanessa Guillen, whose remains were found in June. Her family, who on Thursday met with President Trump, said that she had complained that she was being sexually harassed by a fellow service member.

One suspect in the case, 20-year-old Aaron David Robinson, who was also stationed at Fort Hood, killed himself earlier this month. Another suspect, 22-year-old Cecily Aguilar, has been arrested and charged with one count of conspiracy to tamper with evidence.

In a press release, the Army said the purpose of the review would be to "determine whether the command climate and culture at Fort Hood, and the surrounding military community, reflects the Army's values, including safety, respect, inclusiveness, and a commitment to diversity, and workplaces and communities free from sexual harassment."

"The panel will review historical data and conduct interviews with military members, civilians and members of the local community."

In a Thursday meeting between Trump and Guillen's family, the president said the killing would be investigated "very powerfully" and offered to help the family pay for her funeral.

Trump said the investigation will "get to the bottom of it. Maybe things can come out that will help other people in a situation like Vanessa."

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