WASHINGTON, U.S. — Senator John Cornyn has reintroduced the Servicemember Safety and Security Act. This bipartisan bill would improve policies and procedures for reporting missing service members.
After several Fort Hood soldiers have gone missing, this bill would increase information gathering and sharing with local and federal law enforcement.
Pvt. Gregory Morales went missing in 2019, where he was declared AWOL. Because of that term, Morales' mother, Kim Wedel, feels the search for her son was delayed.
"Once the word AWOL goes out everybody is just like oh a missing soldier, it's their fault it's the soldier's fault," Wedel said.
Sen. Cornyn introduced this bill following the recent deaths of SGT Elder Fernandes, SPC Vanessa Guillén, and the other U.S. soldiers stationed at Fort Hood.
“As a parent and the son of a veteran, I feel a sense of duty to protect the dedicated service members who sacrifice so much to protect us,” Sen. Cornyn said. “The recent deaths of soldiers at Fort Hood have shaken us all, and my hope is that this bill will help us prevent similar tragedies in the future.”
Specifically, The Servicemember Safety and Security Act requires the Secretary of Defense to conduct a comprehensive review of the Department’s policies and procedures for reporting members of the Armed Forces absent without leave or missing.
Each military installation would then be required to review its policies and procedures for reporting missing or AWOL service members, and to update policies and procedures to improve force protection, security for on-base residents, and coordination with local and federal law enforcement.
Installation commanders would be required to create or update protocols for information sharing with local and federal law enforcement agencies in their area of operation.
Finally, installation commanders would report these protocols back to each service installation command.
Wedel believes a bill like this is good to have in place but there shouldn't be legislation needed.
"Why do we have to have a rule that says care about your soldiers, why do we have to have protocols that say do the right thing," Wedel said.
Saturday, June 19th, will mark one year since Morales was found. August marks two years since he went missing. Wedel believes her son was killed the day he went missing in 2019.
"It's still just that hard to talk about," Wedel said. "There's so much anger, they just didn't care they had no intention to look for him they just wrote him off."
As these soldiers fight for our country, this bill will fight for them.
"We shouldn't need it, we should just do this any way this is something that should be done," Wedel said.