U.S. Army officials announced the establishment of a new resource center at Fort Hood on Thursday following a series of deaths and allegations of sexual assault that have plagued the military base.
The Associated Press reported that the Texas facility, dubbed "The People First Center," will focus on helping soldiers that are experiencing mental health issues such as suicidal thoughts or have endured sexual assault, among other things. The center will also serve as a training resource for base leaders to react with the appropriate response to these issues.
Training and support services will also be available for suicide prevention, substance abuse and spirituality, according to the AP. The new center will be fully operational by 2022.
The Army’s deputy chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Gary Brito, told the newswire that he hoped the new changes will implement a "cordial, comfortable" environment for those at the base.
“I know some goodness will come out of it over time, by doing this right, the intellectual energies behind it and more importantly the passion of leadership behind it,” Brito said, according to the wire service.
The military installation has experienced a slew of controversy following dozens of deaths at the base in recent years.
An independent review of Fort Hood found that military leaders were not responding to the increased rates of sexual assault, harassment, drug abuse and other mental health issues at the base, according to AP.
The new facility also comes after the death of Pfc. Vanessa Guillen, who was missing in April of 2020 before her body was found in July of that year. Army officials had suspected another soldier of bludgeoning her to death. Guillen's sister said that she previously disclosed sexual harassment to her, but never reported it out of fear of retaliation.
Guillen's death shed light on a climate of widespread sexual misconduct at the base.