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Central Texas Local News | kcentv.com

Panel reviewing Fort Hood climate and culture arrives on post for two week stay

Five civilians were appointed by the Secretary of the Army in the wake of the disappearance and killing of Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillen.

FORT HOOD, Texas — Five civilian members of a committee that will conduct an independent review of Fort Hood arrived in Killeen on Sunday for a two-week fact-finding mission, according to a press release from Fort Hood.

The Fort Hood Independent Review Committee will examine the command climate and culture at Fort Hood and the surrounding military community to determine whether they reflect the Army’s commitment to safety, respect, inclusiveness, diversity, and freedom from sexual harassment. While at Fort Hood, FHIRC members plan to meet with unit leaders, Soldiers, local officials, law enforcement and community groups.

Prior to traveling to Texas, members spent several days in Virginia reviewing historical data, attending background sessions and finalizing administrative details.

Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy and Gen. James McConville, Chief of Staff of the Army, requested the FHIRC to provide an interim program report by mid-September and a final report by Oct. 30, 2020.

The FHIRC assessment will include a review of historical data and statistics; interviews with a wide range of Fort Hood personnel; an evaluation of policies, regulations and procedures regarding sexual assault prevention, sexual harassment, equal opportunity and responses to reports of missing Soldiers; an evaluation of leaders' training, education, abilities and effectiveness; and the command climate at various units and its impact on the safety, welfare and readiness of their Soldiers.

McCarthy announced the creation of the panel July 30 in the wake of the disappearance and death of Pfc. Vanessa Guillen.

A Fort Hood criminal complaint said she was killed by Aaron Robinson in an armory room on post then, with the help of Cecily Aguilar, he dismembered her body and buried the remains near the Leon River in Bell County.

Guillen's family said she was being sexually harassed but a Fort Hood investigation found no evidence of the claim. Still, her case launched a nationwide movement to address sexual assault and harassment in the military.

Guillen's family and their attorney Natalie Khawam helped establish the #IAmVanessaGuillen bill which would allow victims to report an assault or harassment outside the chain of command to a third party.

   

FHIRC members Chris Swecker, Jonathan Harmon, Carrie Ricci, Queta Rodriguez and Jack White have a combined 75 years of experience as active-duty military and law-enforcement personnel, and have broad expertise with the law and government investigations.