FORT HOOD — Community leaders of all types were invited to Fort Hood Tuesday as part of efforts to improve community relations after a civilian review board found them to be lacking in that department.
A civilian review of Fort Hood following the murder of Vanessa Guillen, found a severe lack of transparency in community relations, even sighting a poorly run press conference following the discovery of her remains.
It's a problem that leaders at Fort Hood are working to change.
”As we’ve launched our people first initiative, part of that is building trust. Building trust within our formations but, also building trust with the surrounding communities,” said Col. Myles Caggins, Senior Spokesman for III Corps.
That's why Fort Hood invited community leaders of all kinds to spend the day on post to learn more about Fort Hood and the Army.
”We know that to be most effective, we have to demystify what happens inside Fort Hood. No better way to do that than to bring civilians out here,” said Col. Caggins.
Seeing what they are trying to do has some local leaders excited. Especially with Fort Hood Command's People First Initiative.
”All of the commanders in the Killeen Fort Hood area are going to have that people-first attitude. I am really looking forward to it so we can really strengthen our communities between Fort Hood and Killeen,” said Chief Charles Kimble, Chief of Police in Killeen.
There was a variety of community members from elected officials and law enforcement to community rights groups invited to post on Tuesday. Those dedicated to serving the community as a civilian say opportunities like this are extremely important if Fort Hood really seeks to improve.
”So many of us in this town are civilians. We’re on the outside looking in. So, this has given me a glimpse of what it feels like and what it looks like to be in the shoes of a soldier and getting it from the inside out,” said Taneika Moultrie, President of NAACP in Killeen.
Being able to participate in simulations and try on gear, gave them a chance to feel the weight that soldiers carry, figuratively and literally.
“I did not realize how heavy it was until today so, I just want to say to them that I greatly appreciate them and all that they do,” said Moultrie.
Fort Hood is planning to hold many more events like this to rebuild its relationship with the community, especially after the past year.