On Tuesday, the United States Army announced it had relieved or suspended at least 14 officers stationed at Fort Hood, including five top commanders

By Chris Harris
December 09, 2020 11:01 AM
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On Tuesday, the United States Army revealed it had either relieved or suspended at least 14 officers stationed at Fort Hood, including five top commanders, after an investigative panel declared they had fostered an environment that contributed to rampant violence, sexual assault and sexual harassment on site.

The findings come during a year in which at least 25 soldiers assigned to Fort Hood died from suicide, accidents, or homicides. Most prominent among these was the sexual harassment and murder of Private First Class Vanessa Guillen.

In the months before she vanished in April, the 20-year-old small arms repairer with the 3rd Cavalry Regiment told relatives she was being harassed by another soldier at Fort Hood.

Guillen's bludgeoned body wasn't recovered until June 30, and her alleged killer died by suicide as authorities were closing in to arrest him.

Earlier that month, authorities discovered the remains of another missing soldier, Gregory Morales.

Vanessa Guillen, a 20-year-old Soldier stationed at Fort Hood, Texas.
Vanessa Guillen
| Credit: Fort Hood US Army

Tuesday's announcement was delivered by Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy in a video message. Today, a subcommittee of the House of Representatives armed services committee will hear testimony from the panel of investigators that examined the deaths at Fort Hood and the abusive culture that had fomented there.

Additionally, McCarthy said Tuesday there would be another investigation into staffing and procedures at the installation's Criminal Investigation Command unit.

McCarthy expressed disappointment in the top brass at Fort Hood, and vowed to hold them accountable for their failures.

Lastly, McCarthy announced a new Army policy that provides guidelines for how commanders should deal with missing soldiers. It requires Army leaders to list service members as "absent-unknown" for up to 48 hours before doing everything possible to track down that soldier.

Among those fired were Army Maj. Gen. Scott Efflandt, as well as Col. Ralph Overland and Command Sgt. Maj. Bradley Knapp. The suspended officers included Maj. Gen. Jeffery Broadwater and Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Kenny.

PEOPLE was unable to reach any of them for comment.

Guillen's case may have produced the most media coverage, but other stories connected to the site also made national headlines.

In March, Specialist Freddy Delacruz, 23, Asia Cline, 22, and Army vet Shaquan Markell Allred, 23, were found killed. An arrest wouldn't be made until August.

Also over the summer, the body of Sgt. Elder Fernandes was also found hanging from a tree not far from the installation.