Dear Congressional Representatives:
On April 22, 2020 U.S. Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen was murdered inside an armory at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas. Her body was then dismembered, set on fire and buried. According to her family, she had complained repeatedly of being sexually harassed by the man who became her killer.
Vanessa, like countless other female service members in the United States Military, had little confidence that their formal complaints of sexual harassment and assault would be investigated properly and had been made to feel that filing such a complaint would hinder their military careers.
In the Department of Defense Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military, Fiscal 2019, they found 7,825 reported sexual assaults took place, an increase of 3%. They also found the formal complaints of sexual harassment increased by 10%. The Department of Defense also saw an increase in victims who confidentially disclosed their assault without starting an official investigation by 17% with 2,126 reports being filed. This illustrates a clear lack of faith in the chain-of-command to address the issues. While these numbers seem staggering, we know that only a fraction of incidents of sexual harassment and assault get reported due to the trauma and personal nature of the attacks.
Given the numerous concerns surrounding the murder of Specialist Guillen, for the Guillen family, for the lengthy pattern of sexual harassment and assault in the U.S. Military, and for all U.S. Servicewomen we demand that the United State Congress investigate Specialist Guillen's claims of harassment and her murder. We also insist on the passage of legislation that will create an independent body by which individuals of the U.S. Armed Forces will feel empowered to file complaints of this nature and know that they will be investigated without bias, will not threaten their advancement, and that in the end, justice will be served.
I proudly add my name to this petition and urge you to take immediate action on these two items. Let us uphold our finest military values so that no one regardless of gender is left alone and behind by their Command.