Female soldier found dead at Fort Hood allegedly experienced sexual harassment

The Army says “no foul play is evident” in the death of a female solider at Fort Hood last week, less than two years after 20-year-old Vanessa Guillén was murdered following sexual harassment at the base and igniting a public firestorm

Pvt. Ana Basaldua Ruiz, 20, was found dead at the military base in Killeen on Monday, March 13. Basaldua Ruiz’s mother told Noticias Telemundo that her daughter had experienced sexual harassment from her peers and a superior in the weeks leading to her death, and her family told Telemundo she died by apparent suicide. The Army said in a statement her death remains under investigation. 

Basalduaruiz served at Fort Hood in the First Cavalry Division as a combat engineer for the last 15 months, the Army said. The 20-year-old was born in Mexico and, as a naturalized U.S. citizen, joined the Army in 2020. Her father Baldo Basaldua, who lives in California, told Telemundo that she recently told him that “her whole life was going wrong and that she wanted to die.”

“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,” her family said in a statement released by Texas-based The Pink Berets, which assists active duty and veteran military women, on behalf on Ana’s family.

Pvt. Ana Basalduaruiz

Pvt. Ana Basalduaruiz

Photo courtesy of U.S. Army

A GoFundMe has been started by Ana’s aunt Itzi Ortega to help pay for transportation for her other and sister from where they live in Mexico to attend Ana’s memorial. The funds will also help pay for a second autopsy, Ortega wrote, noting that the family was told they would have to pay for one if they wanted a second opinion. 

“Anita represents so much as a young warrior Mexican-American woman in the Army,” Ortega wrote. “All servers of our country must be safe and protected while in formation. We as a family just want to understand and realize what truly happened with our beloved Ana.”

According to data from 2021, the Army’s Criminal Investigations Division had investigated more than 50 suicides and 11 homicides at Fort Hood in the past five years. Nationwide, 519 service members died by suicide in the same year, according to the Department of Defense

“We are saddened by her death and we extend our deepest condolences to her family,” Lt. Gen. Sean C. Bernabe, commanding general, III Armored Corps and Fort Hood said at a press conference on March 17. “With Ana’s passing, we lost a teammate and a friend. Her fellow troopers in the 1st Cavalry Division mourn her loss, Fort Hood mourns her loss … this entire community mourns her loss.

At the press conference on Friday, Bernabe said that officials said “there are no indications of foul play,” but noted that the Army Criminal Investigation Division “is not ruling anything out, and they will investigate the circumstances leading up to Ana’s death fully and completely.”

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