Multiple lawmakers have demanded military reform following the murder of Army Spc. Vanessa Guillen and her family’s claims that she was sexually harassed.
Guillen allegedly slain by male service member
Guillen was bludgeoned to death with a hammer in a Fort Hood armory room where she worked. The prime suspect — fellow soldier Army Spc. Aaron David Robinson — shot and killed himself after being confronted by investigators.
The last time anyone saw Guillen alive was on April 22 in the parking lot of her barracks. Her remains were found over two months later on June 30, CNN reported.
Natalie Khawam, the Guillen family attorney, said that Guillen was beaten so badly that she couldn’t be identified by her medical records. She was successfully identified only after her remains were sent to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.
Khawam also alleged that Robinson sexually harassed Guillen, a claim for which Fort Hood and Army Criminal Investigation command officials said there was no credible evidence.
Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said on July 10 that he had launched an independent review of command climate and culture at Fort Hood in which outside consultants are expected to spend five to ten days on the base.
The consultants “will review historical data, such as command climate surveys, Inspector General reports, criminal/military justice reports and sexual harassment and sexual assault response program statistics, additionally they will conduct interviews with military members and members of the Fort Hood community,” the U.S. Army Public Affairs said in a press release.
The press release continued: “The purpose of this independent review is to determine whether the command climate and culture at Fort Hood, and the surrounding military community, reflects Army values, including respect, inclusiveness, and workplaces free from sexual harassment.”
Lawmakers begin pushing for change
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), has called for two amendments to the National Defense Authorizations Act in order to strengthen military policy addressing sexual harassment.
“The first requires the Government Accountability Office to study and report on the military’s practices for investigating missing persons and compare them with the investigative services in the civilian world, evaluating whether it’s using best practices,” KTLA reported.
“The second requires the Department of Defense to establish a new, confidential reporting process for sexual harassment that would be integrated with the military’s ‘Catch a Serial Offender’ program.”
“Sexual harassment in the military is up; reporting is down,” Speier said in an interview with CNN. “I think with Specialist Guillen’s reluctance to report it, it underscores the fact that retaliation is what they fear.”
Additionally, Cesar Blanco, a member of the Texas House of Representatives, announced on July 21 that he plans to refile two pieces of legislation to address sexual assault in Texas military forces.
The goal of these bills is “to protect victims and witnesses of sexual assault in the Texas military from retaliation and punishment for reporting incidences of sexual assault, and ensure state courts retained jurisdiction over criminal sexual assaults committed in the Texas military,” KFOX-TV reported.
Guillen’s family is set to meet President Donald Trump on July 29 to discuss the legislation they are supporting.
Spier, Rep. Julia Brownley (D-CA) and Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX) spoke at a news conference on July 21 calling for change in military culture.
“We know that Vanessa’s story is not new, and it is time to put a stop to this. This can never happen again,” Garcia said.
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