VIRGINIA BEACH — House Armed Services Committee Vice Chair and 20-year Navy veteran Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA) sent a letter to Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Admiral Michael Gilday today demanding answers on conditions and climate aboard USS George Washington after seven service members assigned to the ship have died in the past year, three of which by suicide in the past month.
“I am continuing to keep these sailors, their families, and the crew of USS George Washington in my thoughts and prayers during this difficult time,” Rep. Luria said. “Each death is a tragedy, and the number of incidents under a single command raises significant concern that requires immediate and stringent inquiry to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the ship’s crew. I am calling on the Department of Defense, the Department of the Navy, and CNO Gilday to provide the House Armed Services Committee and Members of Congress with a full accounting of what steps are being taken to address command climate, safety concerns, mental health, and other issues that may have contributed to this tragic loss of life on USS George Washington. Every member of our armed forces must be treated with respect, and we have an obligation to ensure that our active-duty personnel on USS George Washington and around the world are being heard and supported while serving our country.”
USS George Washington is currently undergoing a multi-year refueling, maintenance, and repair at the Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport News, Virginia.
In the letter to CNO Gilday, Rep. Luria expressed interest in visiting the ship to conduct a listening session with junior enlisted and demanded answers on the following questions:
- What resources are being made available now to assist impacted families and individuals through this tragic time?
- How will the Department assess the climate aboard the USS George Washington?
- Will there be a process for individuals to share their concerns without fear of reprisal?
- What immediate or interim changes will be made in the command as investigations proceed and over what timelines?
Rep. Luria’s letter to CNO Gilday, in its entirety, can be found here.
Congresswoman Elaine Luria represents Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District. She serves on the House Armed Services Committee, where she is the committee’s Vice Chair, the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, where she serves as Chair of the Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Subcommittee, and the House Committee on Homeland Security.
The story is brought to WYDaily readers courtesy of the Office of Rep. Elaine Luria.
If you or someone you know is in distress, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255. This resource is available 24 hours a day.