Heinrich, McSally Call For Fort Hood Investigation After The Deaths Of Two Navajo Nation Members

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), both members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, have sent a letter to U.S. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy requesting a thorough investigation into the high number of deaths this year at the Fort Hood Army Base in Texas. The letter comes in the wake of the tragic deaths of Private Carlton Chee and Army Specialist Miguel Yazzie, both members of the Navajo Nation.

“We write to express our deep concern regarding the alarming number of Soldiers who have died while serving at Fort Hood this year,” wrote the senators. “As you are aware, 28 servicemembers have died at the installation in 2020. The deaths have been from a wide range of causes including training accidents and suicides, and also homicides and causes that are still under investigation. We seek to highlight two deaths in particular, those of Private Carlton L. Chee, 25, and Specialist Miguel D. Yazzie, 33 – both members of the Navajo Nation.”

The senators added, “We share a commitment to the safety of our servicemen and women. We understand that you have appointed a panel consisting of civilian experts to conduct an independent review of the command climate at Fort Hood and have more recently changed the leadership at the installation. In addition to these actions, we ask that you complete thorough and prompt investigations into the multiple ongoing cases of deaths at Fort Hood this year and update Congress and the families of the fallen Soldiers on your findings as soon as possible.”

“Members of the Navajo Nation have a long and distinguished history serving in all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. Along with other Native American tribal members, the men and women of the Navajo Nation serve in the military at a higher per-capita rate than any other population group in the United States. We seek answers on behalf of the families of these two members of the Navajo Nation and for the families of the other servicemembers who have died this year at Fort Hood. We look forward to hearing from you on this important matter,” the senators concluded.

On September 8, Senator Heinrich received a letter from Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer, requesting congressional support in calling for a formal investigation into Fort Hood after the deaths of Pvt. Chee and Spc. Yazzie. Senator Heinrich is heeding this request, seeking answers for the Navajo Nation and the multiple families and loved ones of the military men and women that have lost their lives this year at Fort Hood.

Read the full letter below or by clicking HERE.

Secretary McCarthy:

We write to express our deep concern regarding the alarming number of Soldiers who have died while serving at Fort Hood this year. As you are aware, 28 servicemembers have died at the installation in 2020. The deaths have been from a wide range of causes including training accidents and suicides, and also homicides and causes that are still under investigation. We seek to highlight two deaths in particular, those of Private Carlton L. Chee, 25, and Specialist Miguel D. Yazzie, 33 – both members of the Navajo Nation.

Private Chee collapsed during a training exercise on August 28, 2020 and passed away several days later on September 2, 2020. We understand that Private Chee returned from Poland days prior to the incident. There are many unanswered questions related to his medical treatment and inconsistent information provided by military officials.

Specialist Yazzie was found unresponsive on Fort Hood and was airlifted to a hospital before passing away on July 3, 2020. Specialist Yazzie’s father was unaware of any medical conditions his son may have had.

Both families continue to seek answers as to why their otherwise healthy sons would have passed away during a routine training exercise or while on duty at Fort Hood. The lack of communication from military officials is disconcerting.

We share a commitment to the safety of our servicemen and women. We understand that you have appointed a panel consisting of civilian experts to conduct an independent review of the command climate at Fort Hood and have more recently changed the leadership at the installation. In addition to these actions, we ask that you complete thorough and prompt investigations into the multiple ongoing cases of deaths at Fort Hood this year and update Congress and the families of the fallen Soldiers on your findings as soon as possible.

Members of the Navajo Nation have a long and distinguished history serving in all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. Along with other Native American tribal members, the men and women of the Navajo Nation serve in the military at a higher per-capita rate than any other population group in the United States. We seek answers on behalf of the families of these two members of the Navajo Nation and for the families of the other servicemembers who have died this year at Fort Hood. We look forward to hearing from you on this important matter.