“The Army is committed to caring for the lives of our Soldiers, civilians, families and soldiers, and this independent review will explore the current command climate and culture at Fort Hood,” Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said in a statement. .
The announcement came the same day that Guillen’s mother, Gloria, and other relatives prayed with tears in their eyes to President Donald Trump for justice during an Oval Office meeting.
The independent review aims to determine whether that climate and culture “reflects the values of the military, including security, respect, inclusiveness, and a commitment to diversity, and jobs and communities free from sexual harassment.”;
The panel, with the help of a brigadier general and staff, will study “historical records and conduct interviews with military members, civilians and members of the local community.”
Panel members are Chris Swecker, a Charlotte, North Carolina, attorney and former FBI director; Jonathan Harmon, a lawyer who has represented Fortune 500 companies across the country; Carrie Ricci, an assistant general counsel for the U.S. Department of Agriculture; Queta Rodriguez, a Bexar, Texas county, resident and regional director for FourBlock, a nonprofit that helps veterans move on to civilian careers; and Jack White, an attorney with expertise in government investigations and allegations of discrimination.
“I am committed to providing a full and complete summary of the command climate in Fort Hood and following the facts wherever they lead,” Swecker, who will chair the panel, said in a statement.
The small arms repairman was fatally stabbed with a hammer in the armament room where she worked, and her body was transported from the installation by her killer, Khawam said, citing family details learned by Army investigators.
SPC. Aaron Robinson, a 20-year-old soldier suspected of Guillen’s disappearance, killed himself after police confronted him in Killeen, Texas, earlier this month.
A tearful Gloria Guillen asked the President to help the family investigate their daughter’s death and support a bill that would change the way sexual harassment and military assault reporting is reported.
“The FBI and DOJ are now involved,” Trump told Guillen’s parents and two sisters in the Oval Office.
“We’ve got them involved. And the people at Fort Hood, where it took place, are very involved. We didn’t want to get this under the rrap, which could happen.”
Numerous reviews or investigations into Fort Hood are underway.
The Army Criminal Investigation Command and civil law enforcement are investigating the death.
Fort Hood is conducting an investigation into whether Guillen was sexually harassed. Guillen’s family and their lawyer have said she was sexually harassed in the post.
And an Army Inspector General investigation is assessing whether the climate instigated by Fort Hood commanders is supportive of reporting incidents of sexual harassment and sexual assault.
The findings and recommendations of the civilian panel will be submitted to Army Undersecretary James McPherson and General Joseph M. Martin, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Army, who will co-chair a team to implement the changes, according to the Army.
“I want justice for Vanessa and all the other vendors who died there,” Gloria Guillen told President Thursday.
“We will reach the end of a lot of this and maybe all,” Trump told the family.
Officials said there were 23 deaths this year among 36,500 soldiers at the post – about 60 miles from Austin, Texas.
According to Fort Hood officials, the deaths include seven off-duty accidents; seven suicides; a fight-related death; four suicides, one of which was at the base; two of the natural causes; one who was unspecified awaiting an autopsy; and a drowned.
CNN’s Dakin Andone and Barbara Starr contributed to this report.