Another female soldier is dead in Fort Hood, Texas, and while the U.S. Army is claiming that there was no foul play involved in the death of Pvt. Ana Basaldua Ruiz, 20, who was found dead on March 13, her family says she had been the victim of sexual harassment while stationed at the troubled Texas military installation. Basaldua Ruiz was from Long Beach, California, and joined the Army in 2021, officials said. Almost three years ago, soldier Vanessa Guillén was murdered at Fort Hood prompting protests and subsequent investigations into the sexual harassment she had experienced and an alleged cover-up carried out by her superiors. Now, many are calling attention to parallels between the two cases. Army officials have reportedly told Alejandra Ruiz Zarco, her mother, that she died by suicide, she told told CNN affiliate Univision and Telemundo News. But her family as well as the public, are questioning that determination and calling for further investigation into the circumstances surrounding her death.
Few details related to Basaldua Ruiz’s death have been released to the public, but the Army asserts that Fort Hood leadership has been in “constant contact,” with her mother and father, and that investigation efforts are ongoing. “At this point in the investigation, there are no indications of foul play, CID [Criminal Investigation Division] is not ruling anything out, and they will investigate the circumstances leading up to Ana’s death fully and completely,” Lt. Gen. Sean C. Bernabe, commanding general, III Armored Corps and Fort Hood, said according to a press release.
According to a study conducted in 2021, the Army has investigated 50 suicides and 11 homicides at Fort Hood alone in the past five years, alluding to a major problem with the culture surrounding harassment and mental health at the military base. “Our family wants to ensure that women serving in the United States Military can be safe and protected. The United States cannot be protected by soldiers that are victims of heinous crimes. The family is asking for support and a formal investigation into Ana’s death,” Basaldua Ruiz’s parents said in a statement according to the advocacy group, The Pink Berets.
Across social media, people are once again calling out for systemic change and accountability amongst leadership at Fort Hood, in the wake of yet another seemingly senseless death. Many have voiced suspicions of a potential cover-up regarding Basaldua Ruiz’s sexual harassment claims. “Another tragedy at Fort Hood. We want answers and justice. May you rest in peace #AnaBasalduaRuiz,” reads a tweet by social justice group, Presente.org.
“Almost 3 years after the murder of Vanessa Guillén on Fort Hood we have another woman found dead after multiple claims of being sexually harassed. This follows the death of Denisha Montgomery in August who was stationed in Germany and was ruled a ‘suicide’. The most recent victims name is Ana Basaldua Ruiz,” Kirsten Mason pointed out on Facebook. “I implore you to please please please contact your Congress Members and demand a investigation into the Army and the closure of Fort Hood,”.
As they await further information and response from the military, Basaldua Ruiz’s family is hoping to raise awareness about her untimely death and the often dangerous environments women in the military face on a daily basis.
This is an ongoing story