September 04, 2020

Senator Warren Leads Bipartisan Request for Armed Services Committee Hearing with Army Leaders and Independent Panel Reviewing Fort Hood Command Climate and Culture

Request Comes After The Death of SGT Elder Fernandes and SPC Vanessa Guillén at Fort Hood Senators Are "Determined to Seek Justice and Answers for their Families" and "necessary reforms at Fort Hood"

Text of Letter (PDF)

Boston, MA - United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), John Cornyn (R-Tex.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) sent a bipartisan request to SASC Chairman Jim Inhofe and Ranking Member Jack Reed asking that the Committee hold a public hearing to probe the findings and recommendations of the independent review panel on the command climate and culture at U.S. Army Base Fort Hood, Texas.

The senators' request for a public hearing follows the deaths of Sergeant (SGT) Elder Fernandes and Specialist (SPC) Vanessa Guillén, the latest in a series of tragic deaths of soldiers stationed at Fort Hood this year. In the aftermath of SPC Guillén's death, Army Secretary McCarthy established a panel of civilian experts to conduct a review of Fort Hood's command climate and culture. Upon its completion, the review will be submitted to James E. McPherson, Under Secretary of the Army, and General Joseph M. Martin, the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, who will chair a team to consider recommendations and implement appropriate changes. 

"As parents and United States Senators, we are heartbroken by the deaths of SGT Fernandes, SPC Guillén, and the other U.S. soldiers stationed at Fort Hood, and we are determined to seek justice and answers for their families and to ensure the Army is implementing necessary reforms at Fort Hood, and that Congress is holding the Army accountable," the senators wrote.

"We believe that an open hearing before the Committee with the panel members, none of whom are affiliated with the Army, followed by Army leadership who can testify to the service's plans for implementing any recommendations provided by the panel, will provide an opportunity to candidly discuss its findings and recommendations and engage in a dialogue on ways that Congress and the Army can ensure a supportive command climate at Fort Hood for all of its soldiers," the senators continued. 

Today, Senators Warren and Markey and Congressman Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) sent a letter to the independent review panel investigating the command climate and culture at Fort Hood urging the panel include the case of SGT Fernandes in its review of the base.

Last week, Senator Warren led a Massachusetts Congressional Delegation letter formally requesting that the Department of Defense (DoD) Inspector General conduct a complete and thorough investigation into the circumstances that led to the disappearance and death of SGT Fernandes, a 23 year-old native of Brockton, Massachusetts, who was assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas.