LULAC SAYS RECENT DEATHS BY SUICIDE AT FT. CAVAZOS AFFIRMS WHY A PARTNERSHIP FOR HEALING AND REBUILDING TRUST IS VITAL
Nation's Oldest Latino Civil Rights Organization and the Brandon Caserta Foundation Say They are Working 24-7 to Save Lives
August 25, 2023
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Washington, DC – The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), together with the Brandon Caserta Foundation, stands in deep sorrow and solidarity with the families and community affected by the recent deaths by suicide at Ft. Cavazos. As reports of these tragedies spread across social media platforms, LULAC and the Brandon Caserta Foundation emphasize their unwavering commitment to preventing further loss of life and fostering healing within the community.
"These deaths sadden us because each person is someone's son, daughter, brother, or sister, a loved one to a family somewhere in our country," said Roman Palomares, Chair of the LULAC National Military and Veterans Affairs Committee. "They are not just a statistic. LULAC is committed to working shoulder-to-shoulder with the U.S. Army to ensure we prevent these deaths, and we will not stop until all suicides among active or veteran service members are ended," said Palomares.
Patrick and Teri Caserta, authors of the Brandon Act and founders of the Brandon Caserta Foundation, echo this commitment: "The Brandon Caserta Foundation is committed to making sure that the roll-out of the Brandon Act is successful Army-wide and is ready to help the branch do so at Fort Cavazos or any other military installation worldwide."
Ft. Cavazos holds particular significance as the military installation where Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen tragically lost her life, leading to the creation of the Vanessa Guillen Act, aimed at addressing military sexual trauma (MST). This factor tragically contributes to suicide. While Ft. Cavazos does not publicly disclose all suicide-related information, past reports indicate that as early as 2016, 13 servicemembers died by suicide, underscoring the pressing need for comprehensive intervention and support.
Lt. Col. Tania Donovan, the deputy public affairs officer for III Corps, the central headquarters unit at Fort Cavazos, expressed concern regarding the recent events. She affirmed that efforts are being made to address these distressing incidents and underscored the importance of collaboration with organizations like LULAC and the Brandon Caserta Foundation.
Analuisa Tapia, LULAC national board appointee and LULAC leader in Killeen, Texas, the home of Ft. Cavazos, articulated the community's commitment to restoring trust: "It is clear that our community's trust in the U.S. Army was broken when Vanessa was killed. The healing will take time, but we are determined to work with the Army in rebuilding that confidence and be our community's eyes and ears in the process."
LULAC and the Brandon Caserta Foundation recognize that the journey toward healing and trust-building is multifaceted and challenging. Through open dialogue, cooperative initiatives, and comprehensive support mechanisms, they are dedicated to ensuring that servicemembers receive the assistance they need and that their lives are valued. As the nation grapples with the devastating impact of suicide among active and veteran service members, LULAC and the Brandon Caserta Foundation stand as steadfast allies in the fight against this tragic loss of life. Through partnership, education, and advocacy, they are committed to crafting a future where every individual, regardless of their service, finds hope, support, and the opportunity to heal.