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Fort Hood soldier’s death sparks reminders of Guillen; “no foul play,’ say Army investigators

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The death of an Hispanic, female soldier at Fort Hood this week has sparked thoughts of Vanessa Guillen, according to comments on social media attached to posts about reports of the death of Pvt. Ana Basaldua Ruiz, but Fort Hood officials say “no foul play was evident” in her death.

That may not change the sentiment of some on social media.

Comments on various posts ranged from “Here we go again,” to revived calls to close the post.

Fort Hood officials Wednesday evening confirmed the Monday death of the 20-year-old combat engineer, who had served with the 1st Cavalry Division for 15 months.

“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.”

Basaldua Ruiz’s parents spoke to Hispanic news network Noticias Telemundo on Wednesday. According to Noticias Telemundo, the parents said their daughter was found dead inside a maintenance bay at Fort Hood and that the parents said post officials told them her death was initially being investigated as a suicide.

Fort Hood’s most recent update did not specify the nature of her death or where she died.

The Army Criminal Investigation Division and the chain of command are investigating Basaldua Ruiz’s death, officials said.

Basaldua Ruiz, whose home of record is listed as Long Beach, California, entered the Army in July 2021 and has been assigned to 91st Engineer Battalion, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, since December 2021.

Her parents told Noticias Telemundo that Basaldua Ruiz said she was “no longer comfortable” and that she was being sexually harassed, according to a translation of the article, which was originally in Spanish. Noticias Telemundo also reported that military officials had not confirmed the harassment allegations.

Army investigators are looking into those allegations.

“Information related to any possible harassment will be addressed and investigated fully,” Fort Hood officials said Thursday.

A Houston lawyer, who sent a news release related to Basaldua Ruiz’s death, said sexual harassment is a “systemic problem.”

“This is a systemic problem at Fort Hood,” said Sean Timmons, a former Judge Advocate General’s Corps attorney and current managing partner of Tully Rinckey’s Houston office. “There are massive injustices happening at Fort Hood and it shows from the repeated cases of command dereliction, neglect, and maltreatment.”

Mayra Guillen — the sister of the Spc. Vanessa Guillen, who was brutally murdered at Fort Hood in 2020 — posted on Twitter about Basaldua Ruiz’s death.

Guillen said she would speak to the Basaldua Ruiz’s family soon but said she will not speak on something she is not fully aware of yet.

A few hours later, on Thursday morning, Guillen posted the following: “SEXUAL HARASSMENT & SEXUAL ASSAULT ARE NOT INCIDENT TO SERVICE. ENOUGH. VANESSA did not sign up to be SA,SH. ANA did not sign up to be tormented with SH. When will it be enough??? How many MORE? #JusticeforVanessaGuillen #JusticeforAnaBasaldua.”

Portions of a bill passed by Congress to change the way the military handles sexual harassment claims were included in the National Defense Authorization Act signed by President Joe Biden in December 2021.

The bill was spurred by public outcries from Guillen’s family, who said she was also sexually harassed prior to her death.

Among other provisions, with the passage of Biden’s NDAA in 2021, sexual harassment is now criminalized under the Uniform Code of Military Justice and unit commanders are immediately required to open independent investigations after receiving sexual harassment complaints.

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