FORT HOOD, TX — The murder of Specialist Vanessa Guillen sparked protest and outrage that led to a Civilian Review Board taking a deep dive into what was going on at Fort Hood.
Major changes need to happen and the Commanding General of 1st Cavalry Division, Major General John Richardson, said that begins with earning back the trust they had lost.
”We really drove home to all of our leaders on the post that we have to reestablish trust with each other, with our soldiers and the American people," said Richardson. "We can only do that with our actions."
That meant putting the soldiers and their families above the mission.
”First what we had to do was get to know our soldiers. Really get to know them and that was through a very deliberate process and establishing some new techniques to do that," said MG Richardson.
They needed to start holding leaders accountable and that includes the handling of sexual harassment or assault cases.
”I go through each sexual harassment and sexual assault incident and it's got two purposes," said Richardson. "Its primary purpose is, I am making sure the victim is getting all the services he or she needs.”
MG Richardson also makes sure leaders at all levels are required to be transparent and keep victims informed of their case status.
”There was no feedback to the soldier. Things were being done but there was no feedback. So, the soldier didn’t know and perception can be reality and if you don’t think your chain of command is taking any action, well then in your mind, your chain of command isn’t taking any action,” said MG Richardson.
1st Cavalry Division is America’s first team and for MG Richardson, building that team starts with one thing - trust.
”The foundation of all that is trust. So, everything has been focused on, how do we build trust? Know your soldiers, take action as a leader and hold each other accountable,” said MG Richardson.
Major General Richardson now personally welcomes new soldiers to the division and gives them the opportunity to ask their commanding general any questions they may have, even anonymously.
While much has changed, more needs to be done and General Richardson said that is what he plans to do as long as 1st Cavalry Division is under his command.