10 Things You Need to Know About the Vanessa Guillen Case

When Specialist Vanessa Guillen disappeared from Fort Hood in Texas, on April 22, we all got a glimpse into a tragedy that involved the military, covered up sexual harassment, and the senseless, horrible murder of a 20-year-old Chicana

vanessa guillen

Photo: U.S. Army

When Specialist Vanessa Guillen disappeared from Fort Hood in Texas, on April 22, we all got a glimpse into a tragedy that involved the military, covered up sexual harassment, and the senseless, horrible murder of a 20-year-old Chicana.

Movements soon formed to first find the missing Guillen, and then to obtain justice when her remains were found near Fort Hood. We want to keep this case front and center. Not only because those responsible for her murder have to be held accountable, but because deeply necessary changes should be made in the military. Transparency must be encouraged and pushed for and proper policies about sexual harassment and the treatment of women must be put in place by our government. Here are ten things everyone should know about the Vanessa Guillen case.

wp_*postsVanessa Guillen Was in the Army


Hailing from Houston, Texas, Vanessa Guillen, according to the New York Times had an interest in the military since childhood. Although her mother, Gloria had reservations about Vanessa joining the Army, Vanessa enlisted at the age of 18, in June 2018. She was trained as a small arms and artillery repairer, known in Army as a 91F, and stationed at Fort Hood, in Texas.


She Complained of Sexual Harassment

Vanessa Guillen’s family stated that she confided in them that she was being harassed while serving the country in the U.S. Army. She detailed that a soldier walked in on her while she was showering, and another vulgarly insulted her in Spanish. It has also been reported that Vanessa would be watched while going on runs near or on the base.


Vanessa Disappeared

On April 22, Vanessa Guillen disappeared from Fort Hood. She was last seen at 1:00 pm, in the parking lot of her unit. Items including her ID card, barracks card, bank card, barracks key, and wallet were left behind in her workplace, the armory. Vanessa was reported missing to the United States Army Criminal Division on April 23.


A Social Movement to Find Vanessa

The search for Vanessa Guillen quickly blew up online, being posted and reposted in the form of photos, artwork, and calls for justice on Instagram, Twitter, and beyond. Petitions popped up that called for action and for transparency from the Army. The Latinx community made sure Vanessa’s disappearance was continuously being thrust into the public eye, and in front of military officials, government officials, and the President.


Vanessa Guillen’s Remains Found


On June 30, the partial remains of Vanessa Guillen were found near the Leon River in Texas, about 20 miles east of Fort Hood, which is located in Killeen. The discovery put an end to the search for the private first class soldier, who was posthumously promoted to the rank of specialist, and continued the quest for justice for her.


The Investigation

On June 18, the 3rd Calvary Regiment commander initiated an investigation into Vanessa Guillen’s sexual harassment claims. Her disappearance was investigated by the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID), the Killeen Police Department, the Belton Police Department the FBI with the Bell County’s Sheriff’s Office, the U.S. Marshall Service, Texas Parks and Wildlife, and the Texas Rangers in support.


A Suspect Commits Suicide, Another Arrested


The same day that Vanessa Guillen’s remains were found, Cecily Aguilar, the estranged wife of a soldier at Fort Hood was interviewed by authorities. Aguilar was dating Aaron David Robinson another Fort Hood soldier, and she mentioned to them that he spoke to her about killing a female soldier at the base. A taped call confirmed Robinson’s involvement, but the following day, as law enforcement officials approached him, Robinson shot himself. Cecily Aguilar was arrested for three counts of conspiracy to tamper with evidence.


Protests for Justice for Vanessa Guillen


Marches in cities including Houston, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., and Phoenix allowed the public to unite to demand that Vanessa Guillen receive justice, instead of becoming another statistic, another unsolved murder at Fort Hood, and another case of sexual harassment in the military that gets swept under the rug. Runs, petitions, and calls to contact political leaders also have served as part of the movement.


The Military’s #MeToo Movement


Vanessa Guillen’s harassment, disappearance, and death gave many other women in the military the courage and need to speak up on their own experiences of mistreatment so that this doesn’t happen again. It is seen as the #MeToo movement of the military, also hashtagged #IAmVanessaGuillen. The secrecy and cover-ups of the Army, and other branches of the military are now rightfully being spotlighted.


Vanessa’s Mother Meets with Trump to Discuss Bill


On July 30, Vanessa Guillen’s mother Gloria met with President Trump at the White House, to discuss the Vanessa Guillen bill. The bill would create a system where victims of sexual harassment in the military could report to a neutral third party, instead their report going through their chain of command. This would allow for an impartial process instead of bias, and for things to actually change in the military, rather than being suppressed.

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