El Paso, Texas (KTSM) — Staff Sgt. John D.S. Bailey, 27, died Jan. 14th in an on-post residence on Fort Bliss, the second death at Fort Bliss in the past three weeks.
The first incident involved 19-year-old Pfc. Asia Graham, who was found unresponsive in her barracks on New Year’s Eve.
The two recent deaths are hitting close to home for one 29-year veteran living in El Paso.
Deliris Montanez told KTSM 9 News that while she was a Battalion Commander at Fort Bliss a few years ago, one of her former soldiers passed away.
It touched me tremendously because I know this kid, he had been in my formation, I had visited his unit and I was not there to help him, said Montanez.
Montanez retired about a year ago, but said she still communicates with the family of the young soldier who died. She said she still feels many questions surrounding his death were left unanswered by the military.
Montanez said she fears the same will happen with the death of Graham and Bailey, both of which are still under investigation.
“It’s going to take for everybody in our community to say. ‘enough is enough, and we are not going to drop it until we find some answers,’” said Montanez.
Montanez said she sent a letter to the president, the former secretary of defense and members of Congress back in 2019, talking about problems she saw in the Army, but says she’s gotten no answers.
“I spoke about all the problems that we’re encountering and having in the Army — not just in the Army Reserves — but in the National Guard and all the services components,” said Montanez. “You know and I don’t understand what is it going to take for Congress to direct, not tell, direct the Department of Defense to do something about it.”
Fort Bliss officials said Bailey’s and Graham’s deaths are under investigation by the U.S. Criminal Investigation Command and Fort Bliss will provide updates on ongoing cases when possible.
There are not yet timelines on when those updates will happen, according to Fort Bliss’ Public Information Office.