Washington, DC – Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA), Chair of the House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee, issued the following statement in remembrance of the life of Army SPC Vanessa Guillén, one year after she was murdered.
“Today marks the one year anniversary of the brutal slaying of SPC Vanessa Guillén, a brave, talented young soldier who wanted little more than to serve her country and make her family proud and who paid for her patriotism, dreams, and sacrifice with her life. As I met with her family yesterday, I was struck yet again by the horrific extent of military leadership’s repeated failure to reduce sexual harassment, sexual assault, and violent crime at Fort Hood, one of the worst sites for attacks according to Army officials, and throughout our armed forces. The endless cycle of harassment, assault, and retaliation for those who speak out, including Vanessa, reveals the deep roots of a toxic culture that we must eradicate so that survivors are taken seriously and treated with respect, and assailants are held accountable. The I am Vanessa Guillén Act would do this by providing survivors independent investigations for both sexual harassment and sexual assault reports and independent charging decisions for courts-martial. It would also make sexual harassment a specific military offense, helping get to the core of an issue that too often leads to violence and destroys careers and lives.”
“As I told Vanessa’s father and sisters yesterday, I will never give up my fight to get the I am Vanessa Guillén Act passed in the House and Senate so that Vanessa’s memory lives on and no other family is forced to suffer the anguish, heartbreak, and betrayal they have endured by the very people who should have been there for Vanessa when she came forward and kept her safe. I take inspiration from their tireless work to do the same and I am also driven by the countless other survivors that I have spoken with – and the legions more that I know are suffering in silence. We must end this vile scourge so that parents can send their children to serve our great country without fear that they may be hurt or killed by an enemy within. May God bless the Guillén family and may they know that they are forever in my heart, my thoughts, and my prayers.”