‘I Am Vanessa Guillen’ bill calls for change to reports of sexual harassment in the military

Family is pushing for legislation that would provide unbiased investigations into harassment allegations in the military

Army specialist Vanessa Guillen (KSAT)

FORT HOOD, Texas – A bill named for slain Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillen that would change how the military responds to missing service members and make sexual harassment a crime in the military is officially being introduced in Washington, DC on Wednesday.

Guillen was a 20-year-old Army specialist who disappeared in April. Following her disappearance, a nationwide search was launched in an effort to find her which included the support of celebrities like Selma Hayek.

Partial human remains were found June 30 along the Leon River during the search and were confirmed to be Guillen’s on July 6 by Fort Hood Senior Commander, Maj. Gen. Scott Efflandt.

According to an Associated Press report Guillen is just one of 28 soldiers stationed at U.S. Army base Fort Hood that have died so far this year, based on data provided by Fort Hood officials.

Natalie Khawam, the Guillen family’s attorney, has previously stated that the family is pushing for legislation in Guillen’s name that would provide “a separate agency, something like the EOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) in the private practice world. It would have an independent person, not part of the command, not part of the military, that’s unbiased. A different set of eyes.”

According to an update on the Find Vanessa Guillen Facebook page, the “I Am Vanessa Guillen” bill will be introduced Wednesday.

“The bill responds to resounding calls for change by revolutionizing the military’s response to missing service members and reports of sexual harassment-assault by making sexual harassment a crime within the uniform code of military justice and moving prosecution decisions of sexual assault and sexual harassment cases out of the chain of command,” one post reads.

Be the voice, Be the change ! Demand Justice For Vanessa Guillén Tomorrow, Wednesday September 16 will be the...

Posted by Find Vanessa Guillen on Tuesday, September 15, 2020

A gruesome affidavit previously release from the FBI details the investigation surrounding the death of specialist Guillen.

The two suspects in Guillen’s death have been identified as 22-year-old Cecily Aguilar, who has been charged with one count of conspiracy to tamper with evidence, and 20-year-old Army Specialist Aaron Robinson, who fatally shot himself in Killeen in June.

U.S. Army officials said July 2 that a criminal investigation has not found any link between Guillen’s disappearance and sexual harassment allegations.

A report from the El Paso Times states that Efflandt was removed from his post at Fort Hood on Sept. 1. “Army officials said Efflandt was supposed to take command of a division at Fort Bliss in El Paso in the near future, but was denied that position as well.”

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About the Author:

Mary Claire Patton has been a journalist with KSAT 12 since 2015. She has reported on several high-profile stories during her career at KSAT and specializes in trending news and things to do around Texas and San Antonio.