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88 lawmakers call for DOD investigation into Vanessa Guillen murder

Missing Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillen (U.S. Army/Released)
July 07, 2020

More than 88 members of Congress joined a bipartisan request for the U.S. Department of Defense Inspector General to conduct an independent review of the actions military officials at Fort Hood, Texas took to investigate the disappearance and death of Spc. Vanessa Guillen.

Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX) wrote a letter, which was signed by 87 other members of Congress, requesting acting DOD Inspector General Sean O’Donnell to investigate the circumstances that led to Guillen’s death and review the actions Army investigators at Fort Hood took after her disappearance in April.

“Thank you to all the local Houston region elected officials who’ve joined us in demanding the @DeptofDefense Acting Inspector General to conduct a full and independent investigation into Fort Hood’s handling of Spc. Vanessa Guillen’s case.#JusticeForVanessaGuillen,” Garcia tweeted along with a photocopy of her letter.

Guillen, 20, went missing on April 22. Human remains were found last week, and on Monday, Fort Hood officials confirmed those remains had been identified as Guillen.

Guillen’s family has accused Army officials of lying throughout efforts to find her. Guillen’s family also raised concerns about sexual harassment at Guillen’s duty station in the days before her disappearance.

“Before her disappearance and murder, 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,” Garcia’s letter states. “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.”

Garcia indicated she drafted the letter after Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) initially requested the review of what efforts Fort Hood officials made to investigate Guillen’s disappearance.

The list included mostly Democratic lawmakers, as well as Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX).

Hurd said in a statement in support of the letter that “Spc. Vanessa Guillen’s disappearance should have been investigated as soon as she went missing.”

Texas Republican Reps. John Carter and Roger Williams also offered statements in support of an investigation, though they had not signed onto Garcia’s letters.

“What is additionally concerning is that it’s been alleged that Spc. Guillen didn’t feel comfortable coming forward to her leaders about the harassment. While the investigation is ongoing, I want to reaffirm that there is no place for sexual abuse of any kind in our nation’s military or in our society. The military’s system must empower victims to speak up and severely punish those who violate the rights of their fellow service members. Adequate investigation and justice for victims is imperative, and there is no room for anything less than that,” Carter tweeted in a Monday statement.

Williams offered a similar statement supporting an investigation into Guillen’s case.

“The search for answers into her tragic death must continue, and I call upon the Department of Defense and law enforcement to conduct an immediate and thorough investigation that leads to those responsible being fully brought to justice,” Williams wrote.