Rep. Maloney Joins 87 Colleagues in Urging the DoD to Investigate Vanessa Guillen’s Tragic Death

Jul 9, 2020
Press Release

Washington, DC - This week, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) joined a letter led by Representative Sylvia Garcia (D-TX) with 87 Members of Congress in support of Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA) and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-NY) request for Department of Defense (DoD) Inspector General Sean O’Donnell to conduct an independent investigation into Fort Hood’s handling of Specialist (SPC) Vanessa Guillen’s case. Earlier this week, Representative Maloney, Chair of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, requested a briefing on the Army’s response to and investigation into Vanessa’s horrific disappearance and murder.

 

“We are deeply disturbed by recent developments in the case of Specialist (SPC) Vanessa Guillen’s disappearance. We strongly support Rep. Jackie Speier and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s call for the Department of Defense (DoD) Inspector General’s Office to conduct a full and independent investigation into SPC Guillen’s disappearance,” the Members wrote in Tuesday’s letter.

“Before her disappearance, SPC Guillen confided in her family that she felt unsafe in Fort Hood due to experiences with sexual harassment, which she did not report out of fear for her personal safety. The U.S. military has a responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of the young women and men that take an oath to defend our country. In SPC Guillen’s case, she was tragically failed by the Army,” they continued.

 

Background:

SPC Vanessa Guillen was a Houston native and a 20-year old Latina soldier that was last seen in Fort Hood on April 22nd, 2020. Her remains were found near Leon River in Bell County, Texas on June 30th, 2020 and identified this week on July 5th, 2020. Since then, one suspect has been apprehended by law enforcement, and the other committed suicide when confronted.

Full text of the letter follows and can be found here.

Dear Acting Inspector General O’Donnell:

We are deeply disturbed by recent developments in the case of Specialist (SPC) Vanessa Guillen’s disappearance. We strongly support Rep. Jackie Speier and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s call for the Department of Defense (DoD) Inspector General’s Office to conduct a full and independent investigation into SPC Guillen’s disappearance.

Before her disappearance, SPC Guillen confided in her family that she felt unsafe in Fort Hood due to experiences with sexual harassment, which she did not report out of fear for her personal safety. The U.S. military has a responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of the young women and men that take an oath to defend our country. In SPC Guillen’s case, she was tragically failed by the Army.

In response to this case, current and former Latina service members have demonstrated incredible bravery in sharing their experiences with sexual harassment and assault in the military.

Their stories reinforce a troubling reality revealed in the Defense Department’s fiscal year 2019 report on sexual assault in the military, which reported a 3% increase in the number of sexual assault cases compared to 2018. This epidemic of sexual violence disproportionately impacts women of color, who are also less likely to report their sexual harassment or assault out of fear of retaliation. This is deeply concerning given that the ranks of the United States military have become more diverse over time. Latinos are the fastest growing population in the military, accounting for up to 16% of all active-duty military.

Yet, we are hopeful that a full and independent investigation by the DoD Inspector General’s Office will begin to provide the Guillen family with the answers and justice they seek.

 

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