Navajo Nation joins in calls for investigation into Fort Hood deaths

Navajo Nation joins in calls for investigation into Fort Hood deaths
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The Navajo Nation has joined other groups in calling for a full investigation into a series of deaths at Fort Hood, including a member of the nation last week.

Fort Hood officials said Pvt. Carlton L. Chee of Pinehill, N.M., died Wednesday after collapsing following a fitness training exercise, The Associated Press reported. Chee was the 28th soldier at the post to die this year.

“We are deeply disturbed by the string of deaths at Fort Hood, and if there is any malfeasance or negligence involved, the Navajo Nation calls on our national leaders to pursue every available avenue to protect the lives of our Navajo warriors and those serving in the U.S. Armed Forces,” Speaker of the Navajo Council Seth Damon said.

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Army officials said Chee’s death is under investigation and that the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences in Dallas will perform an autopsy, according to the AP.

“Our young Navajo warriors who choose to continue the valorous legacy shared by our Navajo Code Talkers deserve the greatest assurances from our military leaders that their service is not in vain,” Damon added.

The Army announced changes to Fort Hood leadership last week as part of its investigation into the slaying of another soldier, Spc. Vanessa Guillen. A fellow soldier is accused of bludgeoning Guillen to death, sparking a broader controversy on the military’s handling of gendered violence.

Maj. Gen. Scott Efflandt, instead of taking over as commander for Fort Bliss’ 1st Armored Division, will remain at Fort Hood and serve as deputy commanding general, Army leadership announced earlier in the month.

“The Army will announce the name of a new commander for the 1st Armored Division, which Efflandt had previously been designated to lead. That announcement is expected in the coming days,” according to a service statement.