The “I Am Vanessa Guillen” Bill aims to create an independent third party to which members of the US Military can report claims of sexual assault and harassment, as calls to close the Fort Hood Army base where Vanessa was murdered increase, amid several suspicious deaths in recent months…
The family and friends of US Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen came to Washington, DC, for the introduction of legislation named in her honor, after she was brutally murdered by a fellow soldier on the base where she was stationed. In a statement, the attorney for Vanessa’s family said, “Our soldiers need an outlet that is independent, neutral, unbiased and give them resolution that is not conflicted with the military because there is no relationship.”
Family and friends of the 20-year-old Army specialist said she reported being sexually harassed to them, but was terrified of reporting it to her superiors because she feared retaliation. Vanessa was reported missing in April and her body finally located in June—dismembered and burned. The main suspects in her murder are a fellow soldier who reportedly took his own life when she was found, and his estranged wife, who claimed Vanessa was murdered on the base where she was stationed.
The Fort Hood Army Base in Texas claims it launched an investigation in June, and found no supporting evidence. But as reports have shown, reports of sexual assault in the US Military have been on the rise in recent years. According to the Defense Department’s own records, there were 20,500 reported instances of “unwanted sexual contact” in 2018. The number of reports increased 38 percent from 2016 to 2018. And one out of every 16 military women reported being groped, raped or sexually assaulted.
The phrase “I am Vanessa Guillen has become a rallying crying for victims in the Military who say their assaults were at the hands of their fellow soldiers and their supervisors, and much like Vanessa, they felt powerless and feared retaliation if they reported it.
Vanessa’s case has garnered the attention of multiple members of Congress and President Trump, as her family and her supporters across the nation call for changes to be made at the highest levels so that other soldiers do not meet the same fate.
There have also been calls to close Fort Hood altogether amid countless questions surrounding Vanessa’s death, along with several other suspicious deaths in cases were soldiers have either died or been found dead. In addition to Vanessa and the main suspect in her murder who reportedly took his own life, the reported deaths include:
Pvt. Mejhor Morta – Found: July 17 – Cause of death: Drowning, investigation ongoing
Pvt. 2nd Class Gregory Scott Morales – Found: June 19 – Cause of death: Undisclosed, foul play suspected
Pfc. Brandon Scott Rosecrans – Found: May 18 – Cause of death: Gunshot wound, murder suspected
Spc. Freddy Delacruz Jr. – Found: March 14 – Cause of death: Gunshot wound, investigated as part of a triple homicide
Spc. Christopher Wayne Sawyer – Found: March 5 – Cause of death: Undisclosed, investigation ongoing
Spc. Shelby Tyler Jones – Found: March 1 – Cause of death: Gunshot wound, investigation ongoing