So many investigations into the trail of death at Fort Hood. So few answers about the source of what Representative Stephen F. Lynch calls “a cancer or sickness at that base.”
The Massachusetts congressional delegation — led by Lynch and Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward J. Markey — has formally requested that the Department of Defense inspector general conduct a complete and thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Sergeant Elder Fernandes, the latest soldier to die under troubling circumstances. After he reported sexual assault by a superior, his family said he was bullied and hazed for doing so. Fernandes, 23, of Brockton, was last seen by members of his Fort Hood unit on Aug. 17. On Aug. 25, he was found hanging from a tree some 25 miles east of the massive army base, in Killeen, Texas.
Lynch, whose district covers Brockton, went to Texas to assist the Fernandes family in their quest for answers. In a joint statement, the Massachusetts lawmakers said, “We must do more than grieve the loss of Sgt. Fernandes — we must seek justice and answers for this family.”
The families of all the soldiers who were assigned to Fort Hood, only to end up dead, deserve the same.
At least nine soldiers have died on or near Fort Hood just this year. Five of those deaths “have been publicly linked to foul play,” the Army Times recently reported. Earlier this summer, the burned and dismembered remains of 20-year-old Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen of Houston were found. Guillen — who, like Fernandes, reported that she was the victim of sexual abuse — was allegedly bludgeoned to death in April by a fellow soldier, who died by suicide as police tried to arrest him.
Fort Hood’s sad history has triggered a plethora of investigations.
The FBI and Justice Department are investigating the death of Guillen.
According to Stars and Stripes, there are at least four internal Army reviews of the base. During a visit in July, the secretary of the Army announced an independent probe.
The General Accounting Office has also agreed to review the Army’s sexual harassment program, at the request of Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, who cited the high incidence of complaints by female soldiers assigned to Fort Hood.
Meanwhile, the Texas Senate Hispanic Caucus also wants a congressional review into the base’s policy of dealing with sexual assault and harassment cases, as well as into the soldier deaths and disappearances.
And now the Massachusetts delegation has also weighed in with its demand for investigative action.
According to an AP story published in the Army Times, Fernandes entered the Army in September 2016 as a chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear specialist. His awards and decorations included the Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and Army Service Ribbon. When Fernandes’s body was discovered, the commander of his unit issued a statement saying they were “heartbroken” and “will continue to support the Fernandes family during this difficult time.”
It’s good that so many investigations are underway, but ultimate responsibility lies with the Trump administration. The only support that matters is support for finding the source of the sickness — and ridding Fort Hood of it.
Editorials represent the views of the Boston Globe Editorial Board. Follow us on Twitter at @GlobeOpinion.