*Editor’s Note: Veterans or service members experiencing a mental health emergency can contact the Veteran Crisis Line at 988 or at 1-800-273-8255 and select option 1 for a VA staffer. Veterans, troops or their family members can also text 838255 or visit VeteransCrisisLine.net for assistance.
A combat engineer assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas, was found dead Monday, officials announced.
Pvt. Ana Basaldua Ruiz, 20, died by apparent suicide in a maintenance bay there, her family told Noticias Telemundo, a Spanish-language news agency owned by NBC. Basaldua Ruiz was born in Mexico and enlisted in the Army after immigrating to the U.S., the agency reported.
The soldier’s mother told Noticias Telemundo that Basaldua Ruiz experienced sexual harassment from her peers and a superior in the weeks preceding her death. It’s not clear whether she made any sexual harassment reports during her 15 months stationed at the Texas post.
The service’s Criminal Investigation Division is investigating the soldier’s death, according to an unsigned press release from Fort Hood officials. The release said Basaldua Ruiz’s chain of command is “in contact with her family” to offer resources and keep them updated on the investigation.
Fort Hood officials did not immediately respond to questions from Army Times about the report or alleged sexual harassment, and Basaldua Ruiz’s mother did not respond to a query made via Facebook.
Basaldua Ruiz’s battalion commander mourned the loss in a statement accompanying the release.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of PV2 Ana Basalduaruiz, and we extend our sympathies to her father, mother, and her sister,” said Lt. Col. Patrick Sullivan, who commands the 91st Engineer Battalion, part of the 1st Cavalry Division’s 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team. “Our thoughts and prayers are with them during this difficult time.”
Soldiers impacted by Basaldua Ruiz’s death also have access to “support and resources” from the command, the release said.
Davis Winkie covers the Army for Military Times. He studied history at Vanderbilt and UNC-Chapel Hill, and served five years in the Army Guard. His investigations earned the Society of Professional Journalists' 2023 Sunshine Award and consecutive Military Reporters and Editors honors, among others. Davis was also a 2022 Livingston Awards finalist.