San Antonio – A group of people made up of women, men, and people with a military background gathered during a vigil in honor of Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillen on Saturday. That gathering also was to raise awareness about unsolved crimes that happen to those who have fought for our country.
“When the story came out, I was trying to keep my own emotions numb,” said a woman who goes by the name Regina. “I know what it is like to be sexually harassed by your command and being eventually raped and threatened to be killed and living in fear. When her story came out, one of the things that was on my mind is, ‘When is this going stop? When will there be justice for those who experienced this?' Unlike Vanessa, I am alive but it hurts to know that this keeps going on.”
Regina described the traumatic experience that she lived through.
“Imagine being 19-years-old,” Regina said. “You are far away from home. You go out with your friends and have fun and let loose for a little bit. Then, one of your fellow marines, soldiers, or sailors drug you and take something sacred from you. Rape and sexual harassment is seen as a workplace hazard, not as a crime. If you are lucky, you have a command who cares and will help you. In my case, you either get kicked out or suffer from the repercussions because they don’t want to deal with it. You are forced to be silent.”
She said she was told something disturbing when she tried bringing her case to the higher-ups.
“The ring-leader said go ahead and report it,” Regina said. “There is plenty of tree lines out here to hide your body. You are alone and afraid for your life. I was alone. I am Vanessa. I didn’t know who to turn to or trust. You don’t want to say anything to anyone because you don’t want to cause a problem. You are literally surrounded by highly-trained killers and you are just one compared to how many.”
Regina said she wants it to be known that these kind of crimes happens to both men and women fighting for our country.
Billie Billington also attended the vigil and she too said Guillen’s situation hits close to home for her.
“Me being a medic and having a job working in the ER, I treat patients who are like Vanessa,” Billington said. “It is sad because that could have been my sister or my best friend. We are not going to let her spirit die. We are not going to let her soul die. They are not going stop us until we get answers.”
She said she was disgusted after learning how Guillen lost her life.
“I believe this happens often because the military is a male-dominated world,” Billington said. “If they speak up, they think they want attention or something. There are some fake situations but nine times out of 10, there are real cases. I think it is important to bring to light situations a lot of people don’t want to talk about and quite frankly are easy to sweep under the rug and act like it didn’t happen. We are here for Vanessa and we won’t let her life go in vain. We are going to get answers by any means necessary.”
The suspect accused in Guillen’s death, Aaron Robinson, fatally shot himself as officers tried making contact with him. He worked as an army specialist.
The other suspect, Cecily Aguilar, a civilian, was also taken into custody on a count of conspiracy to tamper with evidence. She could face up to 20 years in federal prison in Waco this upcoming week.