FORT HOOD, TX — In a one-on-one with 25 News, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas addressed the recent controversies at Fort Hood and what needs to be done to improve the post's future.
25 News anchor Todd Unger asked, "Let's start with Fort Hood. Last week, you penned a letter to the Secretary of the Army expressing some deep concern. This week, the Army sped up some leadership changes on post, so now it's under new command. Does that go far enough to address these disappearances and deaths?
Sen. Cornyn responded, "No, it doesn’t. It does suggest how serious the Army is taking this. In my conversations with Sec. McCarthy, he’s made a trip to Fort Hood and now appointed this independent group of talented people who will then report back. Then, ulitmately it’ll be up for the Army to suggest changes they want to make, but Congress is going to weigh in, too[ ...] We owe it to the young men and women who serve that they’re better protected. There just seems to be an inexplicable outbreak of strange things at happening Fort Hood.”
Unger asked, "One common factor we hear from all of these families is transparency. They can't get any straight answers for weeks or months about why or how their loved one disappeared. Do you think there's a secrecy problem on post?"
Sen. Cornyn responded, "I think there’s a cultural problem. Part of the difficulty is there’s a criminal investigation ongoing, and ordinarily criminal investigators don’t publicly divulge their investigation until they’re ready to recommend charges. That’s one stage. There will be complete transparency with the independent investigation to look at the command structure to see where mistakes were made [...] Ultimately, Congress will have the authority to pass legislation and make other changes we deem appropriate.”
Unger asked, "The family of Spc. Vanessa Guillen is pushing for the #IAmVanessaGuillen bill to get introduced and pushed through Congress. Effectively, it would allow service members to report sexual harassment or assault to an outside agency. Do you support the bill?"
Sen. Cornyn responded, "There’s a lot of discussion about whether we should go outside the chain of command. Ya’ know, the military is a unique structure. It’s not like the civilian structure. There’s accountability up and down the chain. My preferred course of action would be when commanders don’t do their jobs, we remove them […] this is not the first time we’ve debated this inside or outside approach. I’d certainly be willing to consider it, but like I said this isn’t a new debate.”