MAY 14, 2021 – The Military Personnel Sub-Committee of the House Armed Services Committee spoke positively about the progress being made following the 70 recommended changes requested by the Independent Review Committee, during a press conference here, May 6.
“I’m happy to say that Fort Hood has taken very seriously the criticisms they’ve received. They have, indeed, created a campaign around People First,” Congresswoman Jackie Speier (California-District 14), who serves as chair of the sub-committee, announced. “There is a seismic change at Fort Hood in terms of the way they are treating their Soldiers.”
During the sub-committee’s two-day visit to Fort Hood, the congresswoman said they took time to speak with Fort Hood leaders regarding the changes being made. She said they also spoke with Soldiers of all ranks to find out if the changes have made a positive impact.
“Probably one of the most important steps they took was returning to what they call a leader book, so they connect with each of their Soldiers – know where they live, know their telephone numbers and connect with their families,” Speier explained. “There are still many areas that require attention here at Fort Hood, as they do in many of our installations throughout the military.”
Speier said she knows Fort Hood is currently under the microscope, but believes it is not an outlier – the same issues being highlighted are happening at other installations around the world. She vowed that the sub-committee would continue their work and evaluate installations one by one.
“The one thing I do know is that Fort Hood could become the spotlight, the role model, for installations around the country, as to how to fix these problems,” she added, applauding Lt. Gen. Pat White, III Corps and Fort Hood commanding general, for his swift and effective actions.
Congressman Marc Veasey (Texas-District 33), agreed with Speier’s assessment, saying he was encouraged by the changes being made after speaking with Soldiers about their noncommissioned officers and commanders.
Veasey said the Soldiers told him that sexual harassment and sexual assault have been taken seriously, allowing them to feel safer on the installation.
“I believe that Fort Hood really can be a pace-setter for making the change throughout the military for bases everywhere – around the country and around the globe – if they take the initiatives to make the changes early,” Veasey said.
Some issues still needing to be addressed include housing and child care, Speier said during the press conference. The sub-committee said quality of life issues remain a serious concern at Fort Hood. The chairwoman said they visited barracks, on-post family housing and child development centers.
She said there is a lack of child care on Fort Hood, which needs to be addressed for the large installation. Speier said there also remains a shortage of homes on Fort Hood, and there are still major issues with asbestos, lead and mold, which are not being repaired by Lendlease, the privatized organization in charge of Fort Hood Family Housing.
“We have an obligation to these Soldiers and their families to give them quality housing,” Speier said. “We are going to take steps to ensure that happens.”
Speier reported that the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division announced earlier that day that they would be restructuring the CID, hiring civilian agents to work alongside their military counterparts. They will also be hiring a civilian director to report directly to the Under Secretary of the Army. Currently, a general officer serves as both Provost Marshal and CID commanding general. Those roles will be split between a civilian and the commanding general.
“Maj. Gen. Donna Martin led an intensive five-month structural redesign to create an organization with enhanced capabilities and capacity, organized with and led by civilian and military agents, military officers and enlisted Soldiers,” acting Secretary of the Army John Whitley, referring to the Army’s Provost Marshal/CID commanding general, said in a release by Army Public Affairs. “We are very confident these organizational changes address the committee’s CID-related recommendations and lead us into the future.”
Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia (Texas-District 29), who represents Spc. Vanessa Guillén’s family in Houston, said she was encouraged by the improvements being made at Fort Hood. She said two notable changes include how the Army reports missing persons, and how the Army is working on a program that will keep families updated and informed about their Soldier.
“I know I can go back to the Guillén family and let them know that progress is being made, and Vanessa was part of that change,” Garcia said.
By Brandy Cruz, Fort Hood Public Affairs