Vanessa Guillen death a #MeToo moment for the military? Congresswomen continue to call for full investigation, change

Military hold press conference on Vanessa Guillen case

HOUSTON – Three congresswomen continued to call for a full investigation into the death of Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen and changes to military culture in a news conference on Tuesday in Washington.

“(Vanessa) felt so unsafe that going to them to make any kind of report that she shared with her family and her friends, any kind of report, she knew that she may receive harassment or retaliation,” Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, said. “We know that Vanessa’s story is not new, and it is time to put a stop to this. This can never happen again.”

Guillen’s death has been called a #MeToo moment for the military. The 20-year-old was bludgeoned to death at Fort Hood by a fellow soldier, investigators say. She was last seen in April and was listed as missing for six weeks before the Army released details. The soldier suspected in Guillen’s slaying, Spc. Aaron Robinson, died by suicide on July 1 as police were trying to take him into custody. The Army has confirmed that remains found near Leon River in Bell County were Guillen’s.

U.S. Army officials announced on July 10 that it will begin an independent review of the command climate at Fort Hood following calls for an independent review by members of Congress and community activists.

Rep. Julia Brownley, D-Calif., and Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., also spoke at the event Tuesday in which all called for changes in military culture.

“It is important that we bring all the voices together... who are working on these issues both in the military and in veteran communities throughout America,” Brownley, who is the chair of the House Women Veterans Task Force, said, “... One of the recurring concerns I hear about our nation’s two million and growing women veterans is about the prevalence of sexual violence. We know that at least one in four women veterans has experienced sexual harassment and assault. And the number is probably far higher. That is far, far too many, but I have to say that this statistic alone, it is staggering. It horrifies me. And it is a very deep scar in our military’s history that needs to change and it needs to change now.”

You can watch the full news conference in the video player below.

Brownley, Speier, Garcia Hold Press Conference with Women Veteran Advocates on Ending Sexual Harassment and Assault in the Military and VA

Brownley, Speier, and S. Garcia will be holding a press conference to demand justice for servicewomen and women veterans following the murder of Specialist Vanessa Guillen, who reported to her family that she was being sexually harassed by a fellow soldier before she went missing in April. Watch it live here!

Posted by Congresswoman Julia Brownley on Tuesday, July 21, 2020

About the Author:

Amanda Cochran is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. She specializes in Texas features, consumer and business news and local crime coverage.