Latino Lawmakers Met With Army Officials. Here’s What They Discussed.


Image via AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, Pool

By Araceli Cruz

September 4, 2020

Besides expressing “outrage” over the murder of Vanessa Guillén, the leaders pushed for more Latino representation in senior leadership.

Yesterday, Latino lawmakers met with army officials including Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy to discuss the numerous deaths of soldiers at Fort Hood in Texas and Fort Bragg in North Carolina. 

Led by Congressional Hispanic Caucus Second Vice-Chair Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-CA) and Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-TX), the group expressed “outrage” over the killing of Latino servicemembers Spc. Vanessa Guillén and Spc. Enrique Roman-Martinez, who died near their bases in separate incidents this year.  

“Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus conveyed our collective outrage to senior Army officials over recent murders,” Rep. Barragán said in a statement. “Sexual assault and harassment in the U.S. Armed Forces continues to be a pervasive challenge, and fear of retaliation remains a significant barrier to accountability. From Fort Hood to Fort Bragg, there are clearly systemic issues in the chain of command that must be addressed and a lack of transparency that must be improved.”

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Here are some of the issues that the Latino lawmakers discussed with army officials: 

  • Lack of Latino representation in senior leadership, with Latinos being over 18 percent of the U.S. population, but only 8 percent of U.S. military officers and a mere 1 percent of Generals and Admirals. 
  • The importance of considering Latino heroes when renaming all the bases and installations honoring Confederate leaders. 
  • Ways to emphasize the contributions of immigrants serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.
  • The need to streamline the naturalization process for servicemembers and their families. 

Earlier this week, Army officials announced their first order of action in the wake of internal and independent investigations at Fort Hood. Major General Scott Efflandt, who had begun his post in charge of the Texas base earlier this year, and was set to take over the 1st Armored Division in the coming weeks, was let go from his positions

“Removing the Army Commander is the right decision, but much more is needed to fix a clearly broken system,” the Hispanic Caucus tweeted

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The meeting between the lawmakers and McCarthy addressed the murder of Guillén, the Fort Hood soldier who first went missing in April and was later found dead three months later. They also discussed Roman-Martinez’s murder, who was found dismembered on the beach during a camping trip with his unit in North Carolina over Memorial Weekend. His death remains an open investigation as do several other service members that have been found dead, particularly in Fort Hood. The most recent investigation of another Fort Hood soldier, 23-year-old Sgt. Elder Fernandes who was found hanging from a tree in Temple, Texas.  

“CHC Members appreciate this productive meeting with senior Army leadership and their service to our nation,” Rep. Barragán stated. “We look forward to working together to strengthen the U.S. Army for the American people.” 


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