On April 22, 2020, a 20-year old Latina Army Specialist, Vanessa Guillén vanished from one of the largest Army installations, Fort Hood Army Base in Texas. The news of Vanessa Guillén went viral and had triggered many active-duty servicewomen and veterans of the military to voice their current and past traumatic experiences. The demand for justice for Guillén is loud and clear, there must be a stop to the misogynistic culture that enables sexism/racism in the military.
Guillén’s disappearance kept the nation on edge and in a national outcry. Celebrities took to social media like Salma Hayek, singer/rappers like Kehlani, Snow Tha Product, and Houston local, Baby Bash to amplify Guillén’s story. The twists and turns of foul play and Guillén’s involvement with two other suspects puzzled authorities and the public. How could a young woman go missing on a military base?
Guillén’s family pushed for answers and yet, they were given the run around by Fort Hood Army Base’s chain of command. The family only armed with information Guillén shared with them in private, that she was sexually harassed by her former sergeant Aaron Robinson, who later killed himself after local police and authorities approached him to question him. Robinson had made several advances to Guillén and apparently walked into the women’s locker room while She had been showering.
A second suspect in custody, Cecily Aguilar, 20, Aaron Robinson’s girlfriend, was denied bail and charged with three counts of conspiracy over her involvement and dismemberment of Guillén’s body and burial in a shallow grave by Fort Hood. According to investigative authorities, Robinson killed Guillén with a hammer and Aguilar was an accomplice to her murder. Aguilar pleaded ‘not guilty’ to all charges.
The tragedy of Vanessa Guillén will not be forgotten and has served as a catalyst for action against the violent treatment of active women and veteran women of the military, especially Black, Latinx and other women of color. The hashtag #IamVanessGuillen or #YoSoyVanessaGuillen resonates with servicewoman and servicewoman of color who experienced men’s violence while serving their country. The recruitment of people of color, especially low-income high school students into the U.S. Army and other branches of defense is also in question and in the spotlight.
As of July 1st, there has been a collective pressure for a Congressional investigation into Guillén’s case. Several grassroots and non-profits organizations have called out for action against sexual misconduct and recruiting.
Latino organization representatives like the president of the League of United Latin American Citizens(LULUC), Domingo Garcia, voiced concern over Latinas recruited and enlisting in the military at high rates. Garcia urged Latinas to not enlist. He stated, “The army has this saying ‘we don’t leave anyone behind. We can’t leave Vanessa behind or any other woman.” according to The Hill.
Movements around the nation have called on lawmakers to act on these escalating issues of violence against women serving in the military. The Military Sexual Trauma Movement demands the enactment of policies and procedures from the federal government, military agencies, and local and state jurisdictions. These powerful policies will put an end to the institutionalized conditions that further victimize and take the lives of service members who have suffered from Military Sexual Trauma (MTS).
Grassroots movements formed by women veterans have organized a national open letter be signed to be delivered to state Congressional leaders and the Department of Defense (DoD).
View this post on Instagram
CALL TO ACTION!! Mi gente! Me & a group of amazing Women Veterans have been working tirelessly in support of the Guillén familia and all women vets/service member to bring about true change and uplift the demands of the family. Everyone, vet or not, join us by signing on to our letter. Share it on social media, email it, and talk about it to everyone you know. Like one of our amazing women vets said, “We are done reopening our wounds to the public when we’ve done so continuously without anything to show for it.” The time is now! We demand justice, we demand action, we demand change. Join here (also in bio): ➡️ bit.ly/JusticeForVanessaGuillen #yosoyvanessaguillen #iamvanessaguillen #niunamas #notonemore #SheSePuede #nojusticenoenlistment #JusticeForVanessaGuillen #nojusticenoenlistments #closedownforthood #justiciaparavanessaguillen
The ‘I am Vanessa Guillén Bill’ is proposed legislation for service members, both men and women, to report sexual harassment and assault to a third party or outside agency outside the chain of commands within the military. When allegations are made, it allows for unbiased attention to the matter by the third party. Many times a soldier is suffering from sexual harassment it is from their superior.
TAKE ACTION – Follow the above-mentioned organizations for planned protests and amplification of their efforts. A petition to close Fort Hood down has nearly 900,000 signatures, jump in. For up-to-date information on justice for Vanessa Guillén, follow FIND VANESSA GUILLEN Instagram page organized by Vanessa Guillen’s family.