Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman Jason Crow (CO-06)
Crow joined a congressional delegation to review security and inspect living conditions at Fort Hood, Texas, following the deaths of dozens of servicemembers this year, including Spc. Vanessa Guillén and Sgt. Elder Fernandes.
On September 18, Representative Jason Crow (CO-06), former Army Ranger and member of the House Armed Services Committee, joined a congressional delegation led by Representative Jackie Speier (CA-14) to Fort Hood, Texas to investigate the Army’s botched response to the disappearance and murder of SPC Vanessa Guillén and the deaths of PV2 Gregory Wedel Morales, SGT Elder Fernandes, PFC Brandon Rosecrans, SPC Freddy Delacruz, and many more. So far this year, nearly 30 servicemembers at Fort Hood have died, including eight killed in accidents, six suicides, five homicides, and two related to illness. The cause of at least six other deaths is undetermined. Army Leadership admits that Fort Hood has the worst rate of violent crime and incidents among all of its U.S. installations.
Over the course of several days, Crow and his colleagues spoke to servicemembers of all ranks, their spouses, leadership and advocates about the conditions on the installation and the culture of violence and harassment that threaten troop readiness and morale, and the health and wellbeing of their families. On early Friday morning, Crow joined with junior soldiers for physical training and to talk about their experiences in the Army and at Fort Hood.
“Our soldiers have enough to worry about. To accomplish the difficult missions we give them they have to worry about whether their housing has mold, or whether it’s safe on their military post,” said Crow. “Protecting our nation’s servicemembers is one of our most solemn responsibilities. In our system, it’s the United States Congress that decides what type of military our nation will have. That’s why we are here today to say that we can and we must do better for our fine young men and women.”
“I was ashamed by the conditions of some of the barracks we visited last week, which appeared to lack basic maintenance and cleanliness. The leaders of those units must be held accountable. The men and women who serve and sacrifice so much for us deserve so much better. I believe that the new senior leadership we met with last week is committed to fixing the issues we saw, but they have a heavy lift in front of them.”
Last week, Crow helped introduce the bipartisan I Am Vanessa Guillén Act, which would move prosecution decisions on sexual assault and sexual harassment cases outside of the chain and establish a standalone military offense for sexual harassment. The bill also reforms the ways in which servicemembers report harassment, and the Department of Defense and Government Accountability Office evaluate cases.
Photos taken by Rep. Jason Crow of poor conditions during post tour, including broken chairs in a classroom and occupied soldier housing
In April 2020, the Department of Defense announced a 3 percent increase in servicemembers reporting sexual assault in Fiscal Year 2019. There were 6,236 reports of servicemembers experiencing sexual assault, up from 6,053 reports of sexual assault in Fiscal Year 2018. Additionally, there were 937 reports from U.S. civilians or foreign nationals alleging sexual assault by a servicemember.
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