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Memorial Gathering: Several hundred people — family, friends and fellow Soldiers — attended the unit memorial ceremony by the Regimental Engineer Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment in honor of Spc. Vanessa Guillen inside the Spirit of Fort Hood Chapel at Fort Hood, Texas, July 17. (U.S. Army photo by Brandy Cruz, Fort Hood Public Affairs)

The Department of the Army is in the process of putting together an independent review panel to look into the command climate and culture at Fort Hood.

The review comes after members of Congress and the League of United Latin American Citizens, or LULAC, called for the Army to investigate the post after the death of Spc. Vanessa Guillen, a 3rd Cavalry Regiment soldier.

Once the members of the review panel are fully selected, the Army will be able to lock in a timeline of when they will arrive at Fort Hood, said Lt. Col Jamie Dobson, spokeswoman for the Under Secretary of the Army.

“We will balance the need to conduct this review quickly; however, not at the expense of thoroughness,” Dobson said in an email to the Herald on Wednesday.

The purpose of the independent review is to determine whether the command climate and culture at Fort Hood, and in the surrounding military community, reflects the Army’s values, Dobson said. Those values include safety, respect, inclusiveness, a commitment to diversity and workplaces and communities free from sexual harassment, she said.

“The team will review historical data, such as command climate surveys, Inspector General reports, criminal and military justice reports and Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault Response Program statistics,” she said. “Additionally, the panel will conduct interviews with military members of all ranks, civilians and, as needed, members of the local community, including government leaders and law enforcement officials.”

Those community leaders may include the mayors of the cities surrounding the installation.

“The Army did reach out to me a few weeks ago to say that they may be reaching out to community leaders for assistance,” Killeen Mayor Jose Segarra said Saturday. “I will do what I can to help out Fort Hood if needed.”

Segarra said he may be asked to recommend other leaders to assist in the investigation, such as from the local LULAC and NAACP chapters and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

“We’ll be glad to do what we can to support Fort Hood while they do this investigation,” he said.

The panel will have the authority to look into all units on Fort Hood, from III Corps down to small unit levels, she said.

“The Army is committed to taking care of our soldiers, civilians and families,” Dobson said. “The Secretary of the Army directed this independent review as a means of ensuring the environment at Fort Hood is one where all who live and work there feel safe and everyone is treated with dignity and respect.”

Guillen was found dead at end of June in East Bell County after she was reported missing from Fort Hood since April 22.

A suspect in the case, Fort Hood Spc. Aaron David Robinson, fatally shot himself July 1, and another suspect, Killeen resident Cecily Aguilar, is in custody on federal charges.

Aguilar told investigators that Robinson on April 22 struck a “female soldier in the head with a hammer multiple times at his arms room, killing her on Fort Hood.”

The Secretary of the Army’s office will provide an update on the independent review once the panel is hired and the timeline is set, Dobson said. | 254-501-7554

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