Nation’s Oldest and Largest Latino Civil Rights Organization Calls Firings and Suspensions for Misconduct a Step Forward
Washington, DC – The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) calls today’s announcement of disciplinary actions by the U.S. Army significant and important progress towards justice as well as lasting change within the military branch that Pvt. Vanessa Guillen loved and served up until her death.
“Today’s announcement by the Secretary of the Army and the independent panel that was reviewing the Vanessa Guillen case and abuses and criminal activity at Fort Hood is a major step in the right direction,” says Domingo Garcia, LULAC National President. “LULAC has been fighting for the men and women in uniform such as Vanessa Guillen to make sure that when they serve, they are protected, mentored and motivated to serve their country,” he added.
Fourteen firings and suspensions related to the investigation at Ft. Hood were announced today by Army Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy. They include commanders and lower-level leaders. These dismissals are described in a 143-page report just released by the Army. Also, included are more than 70 recommendations that center on rebuilding trust in the service branch with the ranks and the community.
“LULAC pledges to the families of communities of color and all communities who entrust their loved ones to the Army and our military, that never again will their sons and daughters have to suffer, alone and in silence, the mistreatment and danger from within their own ranks. We stand united with them and their families to ensure their voices are heard at the highest level and their concerns are addressed,” says Sindy Benavides, LULAC National Chief Executive Officer. “For months, we have worked with the Army leadership to create an independent process to investigate matters such as those which led up to the death of Vanessa Guillen and other soldiers at Ft. Hood. LULAC has fought during the past 91-years for the civil rights and dignity of every individual who lives in our country and these rights are not forfeited when he or she puts on a military uniform to defend this nation,” she added.
Members of the Army independent review commission stated that while its members’ work focused on Ft. Hood, many of the determinations and recommendations may now be considered for implementation Army-wide. This includes more complete assessments of the “total soldier” to detect and address any character traits which could lead to acts of misconduct or violence. Also, that military leaders must act faster and more decisively when a soldier goes missing to determine why and take appropriate steps.
Garcia adds, “LULAC looks forward to continuing to work with the Army to make sure that the changes are made that stop the sexual harassment and abuse of our soldiers in the military. Also, that any officer or individual involved is held accountable and that the Army reflects the diversity of today’s America. Vanessa Guillen’s life and her tragic death have hopefully motivated and are bringing about the necessary changes in the Army so that families can feel comfortable when their young men and women serve in our armed forces. LULAC has requested a follow-up meeting with the Secretary of the Army at the Pentagon and will continue to monitor the progress of their actions.”.
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The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is the nation’s largest and oldest civil rights volunteer-based organization that empowers Hispanic Americans and builds strong Latino communities. Headquartered in Washington, DC, with 1,000 councils around the United States and Puerto Rico, LULAC’s programs, services and advocacy address the most important issues for Latinos, meeting critical needs of today and the future. For more information, visit www.LULAC.org.