Today, Ryan D. McCarthy, Secretary of the Army, met with members of the League of United Latin American Citizens and two members of Congress to discuss the loss of Specialist Vanessa Guillén and issues raised because of the investigation.
He shared with the group that he has directed an independent, comprehensive review of the command climate and culture at Fort Hood, as well as the surrounding military community.
“I want to express my condolences to the Guillén family. We are saddened and deeply troubled by the loss of one of our own, Spc. Vanessa Guillén. 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. Guillén 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.
Four civilian consultants, which the Army will hire as highly qualified experts, will form a panel and spend an estimated five to 10 days at Fort Hood. They 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, additionally they will conduct interviews with military members and members of the Fort Hood community.
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. Currently, we are assembling the panel and we are working to rapidly fill the position. We will provide an update to the media on the independent review once the panel is hired and the timeline is set.
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 independent review arose from the questions and concerns voiced by family members, Congress, and various Hispanic advocacy groups during the investigation into the disappearance and murder of Spc. Vanessa Guillén.
The 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, which will consider every recommendation from the panel and make changes as appropriate. Both McPherson and Martin attended the meeting, additionally Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. James C. McConville attended remotely, and the Sergeant Major of the Army Michael A. Grinston attended the meeting as well.