Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News
Members of a late soldier’s family say they are unsatisfied with the results of the investigation into the death of their loved one.
Thursday, Army Criminal Investigation Division officials said in a press release that there was no evidence of foul play in the death of Pvt. Ana Basalduaruiz, 20, a combat engineer who was found dead near Fort Hood in Texas earlier this month.
Importantly, the investigators did not close the case, only offering an update. However, what they shared provided little comfort and few answers for a family still reeling from the loss.
“As with any Soldier fatality, Army CID and the chain of command are actively investigating the facts and circumstances surrounding her death,” the release reads. “The chain of command is in contact with her family to keep them updated and provide them all releasable information. Additionally, the chain of command is also providing support and resources to her family and Troopers that served with her.”
According to a report by CBS News, which cited a story from Spanish-language news site Telemundo, Basalduaruiz’s parents indicated their daughter died by suicide.
Basalduaruiz’s family wants to know what factors led her to make such a choice but alleges the Army is not making enough effort to answer that critical question.
Alejandra Ruiz Zarco, Basalduaruiz’s mother, told Telemundo that her daughter had spoken of being sexually harassed by multiple people at Fort Hood, including at least one superior.
CBS reports that Lucy Del Gaudio, a spokesperson for Basalduaruiz’s family, accuses the Army of sharing little substantive information with Basalduaruiz’s family.
“Nobody really has a valid timeline right now,” Del Gaudio said. She later added, “The Army is doing what they always do, not saying anything.”
The Army characterizes its interactions with the Basalduaruiz family differently.
“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,” Col. Christopher Dempsey, commander, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, said in a statement. “We have remained in constant contact with both parents of Private Basalduaruiz and will continue to keep them updated.”
Sadly, this is not the first time Fort Hood has faced a case of this sort.
In 2020, Spc. Vanessa Guillén disappeared while stationed at Fort Hood. She was later found to have been murdered by a fellow soldier.
An investigation into Guillén’s death revealed she’d also been victimized by sexual harassers and that her chain of command had been insufficient in its response to her allegations of harassment.
The Guillén case led to a nationwide fallout as members of Congress and the general public demanded action.
Eventually, an independent review committee, one headed by a former Secretary of the Army, was appointed to examine “the command climate and culture at Fort Hood and the surrounding military community to determine whether they reflect the Army’s commitment to safety, respect, inclusiveness, diversity and freedom from sexual harassment.”
Numerous policy changes were enacted following the committee’s report and almost two dozen soldiers faced some form of discipline following Guillén’s death. However, Del Gaudio, who in addition to working with the Basalduaruiz family is an executive with the Pink Berets, a group that advocates for women serving in the armed forces, says little has changed.
“This is reliving Vanessa Guillén again,” she said. “It shows that all the leg work that we worked on diligently, the promises the Department of Defense made, and actions made against Fort Hood, were not taken seriously. Harassment is still prevalent, and they need to address it.”
The Army maintains that it is behaving in precisely the manner Del Gaudio requests.
“Army CID will continue to conduct a thorough investigation and gather all evidence and facts to ensure they discover exactly what transpired,” the release reads. “Information related to any possible harassment will be addressed and investigated fully.”