Ana Basaldua's Tragic Death at Fort Hood Sparks Outrage Yet Again at the Ongoing Struggle Against Sexual Harassment and Assault in the Military
21-year-old combat engineer, Private Ana Basaldua Ruiz, has died under circumstances that are currently under investigation at Fort Hood. The Army Criminal Investigation Division and the chain of command are actively looking into the facts and circumstances surrounding her death, according to a statement from Fort Hood.
Although the Army has not provided specific information about the soldier's death, it has been preliminarily attributed to suicide.
Basaldua Ruiz was born in Mexico and became a naturalized U.S. citizen. She enlisted in the Army in 2020 and began her military training a year later at the Central Texas army post. She was due to fulfill her three-year contract in August, but her father, Baldo Basaldua, stated she had recently expressed feelings of discomfort and said that "her whole life was wrong" and "that she wanted to die."
Alejandra Ruiz Zarco, the young woman's mother, stated in an interview with Telemundo that her daughter had told her a few weeks ago that an Army superior was harassing her and that she allegedly received constant sexual advances from other people.
Only a few years ago, the brutal murder of Army specialist Vanessa Guillén shook the Latino community and inspired national outrage at how allegations of sexual assault and harassment are investigated in the military.
At only 20 years old, Guillén was murdered by a fellow serviceman after she threatened to report him for sexually harassing her. The Army attempted to minimize her disappearance as another potential AWOL soldier, but it was through the unwavering efforts of Guillén's family that her death was discovered to be a murder.
Guillén's sister, Mayra Guillén, reacted to Basaldua Ruiz's death on Twitter.
In the aftermath of Vanessa's tragic death, more servicewomen came forward with their own stories of harassment and assault, which has led many to conclude that this is indicative of a broader, systemic problem within the military.
In 2021, a report revealed that the rate of unwanted sexual contact among female service members was estimated to be over 8%, the highest figure recorded since the department started counting in 2004. The reported figure for men was the second-highest, at 1.5%. However, it's important to note that these are only the reported cases.
The investigation into Ana Basaldua Ruiz's death is ongoing.