Months of repeated allegations of harassment, physical assault and retaliation levied by Army Sgt. Jewell Scott against officials on the Fort Hood Army Base near Killeen, Texas, reached a boiling point this week, as Scott posted videos to her personal social media saying she feared for her life.
“If I end up dead ... just know someone did it,” Scott said on her Instagram Story on May 20.
On Monday, Fort Hood officials posted a statement to Facebook, saying they would investigate the allegations and hold leaders “accountable.”
“Our number one priority is the safety and well-being of Sgt. Scott,” Col. Matt Ruedi, deputy commander of the 13th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, said in the statement. Fort Hood officials did not return multiple requests for comment from Yahoo News.
But Scott, who said she’s been in the Army for more than five years, called that statement a “lie” in a subsequent Instagram Story, and alleged a “cover-up.” Now she says she will be discharged from the service in less than a week, claiming that her ordeal illustrates how she’s become a target as officials try to silence her for raising concerns about mistreatment, which she said includes physical assault and threats against her and others on the base.
In her latest post on Thursday, Scott said she is now seeking a lawyer.
Her most recent allegation has led to renewed questions about the allegedly toxic culture of Fort Hood, where in the past two years more than two dozen deaths, multiple disappearances and various tales of intimidation and violence have been reported on NBC News and NPR, among other outlets. In 2020, Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy said Fort Hood had one of the highest rates of murder, sexual assault and sexual harassment in his branch of service.
Seven noncommissioned soldiers complained of the base’s dangerous culture to the Intercept in a damning report in October 2020.
“I would be scared to send my kid to Fort Hood,” one sergeant told the news site. “I don’t think the leadership here at Fort Hood is doing a good job, or any sort of job, to protect their soldiers.”
“The public needs to know what’s going on here,” said another sergeant. “Because I have no more faith in the federal system or the Army.”
Approximately 40,000 soldiers currently serve at Fort Hood, according to base officials, but this number does not include soldiers’ families and others who have access to the base on a daily basis. Fort Hood police describe the base as “a city within itself.”
In 2020, 39 soldiers died or went missing, according to Vanity Fair, including 13 who committed suicide. The most publicized of these was Spc. Vanessa Guillen, 20, who went missing in April of that year. She was later found in the armory where she worked, beaten to death by a hammer. The suspect in her disappearance was another soldier, who killed himself just as he was approached by police.
Lyman Paul, who lost her cousin Corlton Chee after he passed out during physical fitness training in 2020, described Fort Hood to People magazine as “toxic.”
The severity of Scott’s recent allegations reached its peak after she said she’d been arrested by undercover officers last week and taken to a hospital. She claimed that leaders tried to keep her there but medical professionals refused and she was discharged. Instead, Scott says, Fort Hood officials began to follow and harass her at the base in the following days.
“For months, I have tried to bring awareness to these things in which Fort Hood continues to cover up and neglect,” Scott wrote in the description of a GoFundMe she started to raise funds for her abrupt upcoming transition to civilian life. “Once they were made aware that I have been working with news stations, I quickly became a target and someone they needed to hush.”
“Instead after sending out this email as a cry for help after 11 months of fighting this corrupt system and leadership, you had me hawked down like a criminal arrested and harassed,” Scott wrote in a post on Monday. “I couldn't even use the bathroom without someone standing inside of my room outside of my bathroom door.”
While Scott did not specifically name any officers in her online statements, various videos posted to her Instagram account show interactions with numerous military police she claims are harassing her. Scott and the Army’s general press office did not respond to Yahoo News’ requests for comment.
“You will be held accountable for the pain that myself and many other soldiers have endured and lost their lives over,” Scott said. “More evidence to come.”
Cover thumbnail photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: Brandon Bell/Getty Images, Allison Dinner/AFP via Getty Images