SPC Leiana Leinaala Corpuz Macusi was a paratrooper stationed at Fort Benning, GA. Leiana passed away on June 30th, 2021. While few people are aware of the struggles Leiana endured while stationed at Fort Benning, even less are aware of the failures of leadership and healthcare that resulted in her taking her life. This is her story.
SPC Macusi was assigned to 3/16 Cavalry Regiment the first time she was sexually assaulted. She identified her alleged attacker but couldn’t move the case to prosecution due to a lack of substantial evidence.
SPC Macusi received an expedited transfer to 1st Battalion, 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment on Fort Benning. During this time, a couple invited her to their home where the husband proceeded to sexually assault her. He was arrested and admitted to the sexual assault; however, the trial never moved forward due to COVID.
SPC Macusi went to behavioral health (BH) after her second assault. While she was in her second round of inpatient treatment, she received another expedited transfer; this time to the Soldier Recovery Unit (SRU) on Fort Benning.
Because of the trauma she had endured, she tried to get BH inpatient treatment at Martin Army Community Hospital on Fort Benning, but the BH provider refused to admit her to the fourth floor (the BH inpatient/outpatient ward is located).
Instead, she was placed on a “1-1” leader watch. This means she was supposed to have a leader with her at all times. Due to SRU personnel shortages, this wasn’t feasible. The BH provider ended up downgrading the recommendation to “safety watch” (routine checks by staff duty).
The following day she met with the nurse case manager who said she was doing well, then sent her back to her room. Her roommate was in the shower when SPC Macusi took her own life. When the SRU Personnel went to do a welfare check, they found her dead around 2:00pm. She was at the SRU for less than a month when she died.
How Senior Leadership Failed Her
Major General Patrick Donahoe is the Commanding General of the Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning, GA.
Sources stated that MG Donahoe used Leiana’s story as an example of empathetic leadership after her first assault. During the meeting, he described her assault to those in attendance and told those in the room that him intervening to keep her in the Army to receive BH treatment was a model for empathetic leadership.
After Leiana’s first assault, she began receiving negative counselings for her poor work performance. If her unit been able to follow regulation and chapter her out of the Army, the second assault wouldn’t have happened. Instead, MG Donahoe intervened by having her transferred.
How the System Failed Her
Her command team at SRU attempted to get her help by escorting her to the ER based on comments she made previously that day to the pharmacist.
The person who sent her away and wouldn’t admit her wasn’t a traditional psychiatrist BH provider; she was a social worker. Social workers are used as counselors and can only fill in as the “on call provider.” The social worker never called Leiana’s assigned BH provider before sending her away. If hospital staff had followed proper procedure, a licensed psychiatrist would have been notified and she would have potentially been admitted to the fourth floor.
Leiana was the tenth suicide on Fort Benning this year. Sources claimed MG Donahoe publicly stated in meetings that suicide prevention was low on his list of priorities. In fact, his recent campaign update has suicide prevention listed as number nine, while COVID is number one.
What about the perpetrator in her second sexual assault? He admitted to what he did, but due to the backlog in the courts from COVID, he never stood trial. Who will stand up for SPC Macusi and testify that he assaulted her? Will justice at least be served in the aftermath of her death? Regardless of the answer to that question, Leiana will never receive the justice she deserves for the systematic failures she endured at Fort Benning.