At least 15 soldiers at Fort Hood have disappeared or died this year, Texas lawmaker says

Washington-DC

WASHINGTON (Nexstar) — Leadership at Fort Hood military base is changing, according to a press release from the base.

Maj. Gen. John B. Richardson IV will “formally assume duties as deputy commanding general for operations of III Corps and acting senior commander of Fort Hood” on Wednesday. This change was previously scheduled, the base said.

Maj. Gen. Scott Efflandt, who was set to take over the 1st Armored Division, will stay at Fort Hood and “serve as the deputy commanding general for support.” The new commander for the 1st Armored Division will be announced in the coming days, the base said.

The change in command comes as officials recently reported the base has the highest number of cases of soldier murders and sexual assaults among all Army installations. Texas lawmakers are now calling for an immediate investigation and restructuring of the base command.

“There is something wrong at Fort Hood,” said U.S Representative Henry Cuellar (D-TX).

Cuellar says since January, at least 15 soldiers stationed at the Central Texas Army base have disappeared or died.

“I can understand harm out there in the battlefield, but when they are back home in a Texas city or somewhere else—it’s a problem,” Cuellar said.

Cuellar says he started looking into the base in July, after a male soldier murdered 22-year-old Specialist Vanessa Guillen. He recruited Esther Firova with the League of United Latin American Citizens to help.

“We found that there is definitely an acceptable culture within the Army, and a silent code if you will, that no one can talk, no one can speak,” Firova said.

The base announced Tuesday that Gen. John Murray, commanding general of Army Futures Command, will lead an investigation into the chain of command related to Guillen’s case.

But Firova says the investigations launched by the Army since her murder aren’t enough.

“We are going to be holding them accountable consistently,” Firova said. “We want answers. We want solutions.”

Cuellar and other Texas lawmakers, including U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) are also calling for answers.

In a letter to Secretary of the U.S. Army Ryan D. McCarthy, Cornyn says, “It is clear that changes must be made to Fort Hood in order to better safeguard the soldiers stationed there.”

“Let’s find out what the problem is and fix it,” Cuellar said.

McCarthy created an independent panel to review Fort Hood’s climate in July, which will be separate from Gen. Murray’s investigation. The results of the independent panel investigation are expected to be released this month.

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