Secretary of the Army: “We let Vanessa down”

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FORT HOOD, Texas – Change is coming to Fort Hood, that’s according to Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy, who for the past two days has been visiting the installation.

“We must honor her memory by creating enduring change as one harassement and one assault is one too many,” said Secretary McCarthy during a press conference on Fort Hood Thursday afternoon.

Secretary McCarthy’s visit comes three months after 20-year-old Specialist Vanessa Guillen was murdered on post. Many are calling for the base to be shut down.

“I’m angry, I’m frustrated, I’m disappointed, we are heartbroken, but there’s still amazing contributions by men and women from this installation,” said Secretary McCarthy.

In the past months, several Fort Hood soldiers have been found dead.

“The numbers are high here, they are the highest in most cases for sexual assault and harassment and murders for our entire formation in the U.S. Army, so we are getting an outside look to help us get to those root causes and understand so we can make those change,” said Secretary McCarthy.

A fellow soldier, Aaron Robinson has been accused of killing Guillen back in April.

“We are the army, we are a reflection of the country and at times some people infiltrate our ranks, we got to find them, we got to root them out,” said Secretary McCarthy.

Secretary McCarthy says there are several investigations underway: The criminal investigation relating to Vanessa’s murder, an investigation into the unit, and an independent review of the command climate on Fort Hood.

“The results, findings and recommendations will fuel an implementation team chaired by the under secretary of the army and the vice chief of staff in the army,” said Secretary McCarthy.

The Secretary also announcing the rolling out of “Project Inclusion.”

“To address behaviors that tear at the fabric of our force, issues such as a lack of diversity, discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual assault and suicide,” said Secretary McCarthy.

Over the last 24 hours, Secretary McCarthy has met with Fort Hood soldiers of every echelon, from PFC’s to General Officers.

“We are going to put every resource and all of the energy we can to this entire institution behind fixing these problems,” said Secretary McCarthy.

During his two day visit, Secretary McCarthy has completed nine sessions with 10 to 12 soldiers per session.

His independent review team is scheduled to visit Fort Hood near the end of the month.

Click HERE to watch the press conference in its entirety.

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