The incident is under investigation, the statement said.
“We are deeply disturbed by the string of deaths at Fort Hood, and if there is any malfeasance or negligence involved, the Navajo Nation calls on our national leaders to purse every available avenue to protect the lives of our Navajo warriors and those serving in the U.S. Armed Forces,” Navajo Nation speaker Seth Damon said in a statement Friday.
Fort Hood said Chee’s awards and decorations include the National Defense Service Medal and the Army Service Ribbon.
“When we lose just one of our honorable warriors, the entire Nation feels that pain,” Navajo Nation Council Delegate Jamie Henio said.
Fernandes, 23, was reported missing August 17. He had been transferred to a different unit because he was the victim in an “abusive sexual contact” investigation, the Army said.
According to Fort Hood, Fernandes was a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear specialist assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 553rd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division Sustainment Brigade.
The main suspect in her disappearance — another Fort Hood soldier — killed himself when he was confronted by investigators, according to the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division.
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy told reporters Tuesday the new investigation was sparked in part by an increase in incidents at Fort Hood.
“If you look at the numbers this year on the installation for felonious crimes, sexual harassment, sexual assault, the numbers are high, very high this year. And so the trends coupled with that survey, we needed to get a much more comprehensive look about the challenges that Fort Hood is experiencing,” he said.
“We need to understand the root causes so that we can make the appropriate changes, whether that’s a leadership issue, resources, conditions on the ground, our systems. The numbers are bad, and we need to make some adjustments because we’re very concerned,” McCarthy added.