Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia Responds to the Fort Hood Independent Review Committee’s Report on Fort Hood’s Culture and Command Structure

December 8, 2020
Press Release
Media Contact: Robert Julien (DC): Email: Robert.julien@mail.house.gov; Cell: 202-227-0330

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia (TX-29) issued the following statement in response to the Army’s Independent Civilian Panel’s review of Fort Hood’s culture and command structure:

“Today, the Army released a report detailing the Fort Hood Independent Review Committee’s findings as they pertain to Fort Hood’s toxic culture and command structure. This report is just a first step in making sure that what happened to Vanessa Guillen never happens again to another soldier. It confirms what the family, many current and former servicemembers, and my colleagues and I in Congress have been saying throughout this process.”

“There is a widespread culture at Fort Hood, and the Army, that has enabled sexual harassment and assault on the base. The SHARP program is incredibly flawed and fails to keep servicemembers safe. It does not give them a truly confidential way to report sexual violence. The Army’s missing soldier system is broken, failing families who just want transparency when a family member goes missing.”

“In light of these findings, I still have many concerns. This independent panel did not determine who in the command structure was criminally negligent in Vanessa Guillen’s case, but I hope all who are responsible will be held accountable. They must be held accountable! There are still unanswered questions about what the Army and the military as a whole will do to have culturally competent and linguistically inclusive best-practices when engaging families in missing soldier cases. The review concluded that CID at Fort Hood is not prepared to handle cases in general. Additionally, the panel is calling for strengthening the SHARP program; however, it does little to address the need for an independent and confidential way to report sexual violence as proposed in the I Am Vanessa Guillen Act. And lastly, while the panel received tens of thousands of responses about the culture and command structure at Fort Hood, it is unclear how many former and current soldiers who reported their experiences with sexual violence in the military on social media or other channels were contacted as part of this review.”

“At tomorrow’s House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel hearing, I plan to ask the Army how they will get this done for our troops. I am hopeful that the military as a whole will seriously consider the panel’s recommendations. The reality is this problem is bigger than Fort Hood, and the Army. For too long, men and women in the military have warned us about the toxic culture that enables sexual violence in the U.S. Armed Forces. When we examine our conscience, we must act. This boils down to trust. The Army and the U.S. military have a lot of work to do to regain the trust of our servicemembers, their families, and the American public. They cannot afford to wait another decade before anything changes. Vanessa Guillen and every person in the U.S. military deserve better.”

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Congresswoman Sylvia R. Garcia was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in November 2018, becoming the first Latina ever to represent the Texas 29th Congressional District. She serves on the House Judiciary and Financial Services Committees.