The recent death of a young female Army private at Fort Hood has led to a discussion about sexual harassment at the Texas military base.
Ana Fernanda Basaldua Ruiz, a 20-year-old combat engineer with the 1st Cavalry Division who served with the division for 15 months, comes three years after the death of Vanessa Guillén at Fort Hood, who was sexually assaulted and murdered.
“Our family wants to ensure that women serving in the United States Military can be safe and protected. The United States cannot be protected by soldiers that are victims of heinous crimes. The family is asking for support and a formal investigation into Ana’s death,” her family shared in a brief statement through the Pink Berets.
Basaldua Ruiz’s mother told the Spanish-language network Telemundo that a superior in the Army was “harassing her” and that her daughter had received sexual advances while at the base.
A statement from the Department of the Army Criminal Investigation Division confirmed that no foul play was discovered so far in the investigation of the private’s death.
“A loss of any one of our Soldiers is a tragedy, and it is no different in the death of Private Ana Basalduaruiz. Our hearts and thoughts go out to the family, friends, and colleagues of Ana,” said Col. Christopher Dempsey, commander of 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. “We have remained in constant contact with both parents of Private Basalduaruiz, and will continue to keep them updated.”
Few details have been released in the case, leaving much unknown regarding the young soldier’s death.
The Army announced in 2020 that the Fort Hood Independent Review Committee would investigate the base’s culture following Guillén’s murder. A 136-page report was later released with numerous recommendations for improvement to better prevent and report harassment and assault concerns.
The “I Am Vanessa Guillén Act” was enacted last year as part of the National Defense Authorization Act with new requirements for reporting sexual harassment. The act also became well-known due to a Netflix documentary on the issue involving the Pink Berets, a group advocating for women in the military who have experienced harassment or sexual assault.
The concerns are not limited to Fort Bragg. A 2021 Pentagon report found that 29% of women in the military (along with 7% of men) experienced sexual harassment.