In 2020 alone, 28 soldiers at the base have died due to accidents, suicides, homicides and illnesses - five have died by homicide. One of the most widely publicized killings was that of Vanessa Guillén, a 20-year-old US Army specialist. She was murdered in April by another enlisted soldier, Aaron David Robinson, who killed himself in July before authorities could arrest him.
On August 25, another Fort Hood soldier, 23-year-old Sgt. Elder Fernandes, died of suicide by hanging.
Ford Hood was also the location of the deadliest mass shooting on a US military base. In 2009, Nidal Hasan, a US Army major and psychiatrist, fatally shot 13 people and injured 20 others at the facility.
“The problems that are endemic to Fort Hood - in particular, suicide, sexual assault and murder - those are problems that are problems throughout the entire Army,” Prysner told Political Misfits hosts Michelle Witte and Bob Schlehuber.
“What creates a culture like this? There’s a high degree of report of sexual assault” in the ranks of the armed forces, Prysner explained. He noted that despite its prevalence, there is a class dynamic within the military that prevents action from being taken to fully investigate sexual assaults, as commanders may prefer to sweep sexual assault cases under the rug to reflect a positive image.
A recent fact sheet of 2016-2020 statistics provided by Protect Our Defenders, an organization that aims to end the epidemic of sexual assault in the military, shows that the rate of sexual assault in the US military increased by almost 40% from fiscal year 2016 to fiscal year 2018.
"Of women who reported a penetrative sexual assault, 59% were assaulted by someone with a higher rank than them, and 24% were assaulted by someone in their chain of command," the report states.“If you look at our American culture as a whole, we suffer this deep problem. There’s a fantasization of violence, of guns, of killing. The glorification of the military that we see throughout our entire society is really a glorification of war and of killing. And so, that’s why - that’s one of the factors why violence in general is a problem in the US,” Prysner explained.