The Vanessa Guillen Act Has Finally Been Signed Into Law in Texas
As efforts continue to find justice for Vanessa Guillen and other Fort Hood soldiers who've gone missing or been killed, there are steps being taken in the right direction when it comes to making it easier and safer for our service members to report abuse and harassment before it's too late.
Vanessa Guillen Act Signed Into Law in Texas
Governor Greg Abbott has signed the Vanessa Guillen Act Into Law, which allows military members to report sexual assault outside the military chain of command.
KDBC-TV reports that Texas Senator Cesar Blanco proposed bill SB-623, know as the Vanessa Guillen Act, which allows active members of any branch of the military to report sexual assault outside of the normal military chain of command.
When Will the Vanessa Guillen Act Take Effect?
Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed the bill on Saturday, June 19, but like every recent bill he's signed into law lately it doesn't actually go into effect until September 1, 2020.
Vanessa Guillen's Spirit Lives On In Efforts to Protect Our Troops
The new law gets its name after Specialist Vanessa Guillen, the Fort Hood soldier who was murdered by a fellow soldier, Aaron David Robinson, age 20. Guillen told family members she was being sexually harassed by an unnamed soldier not long before she disappeared.
It's reported the Robinson committed suicide following the discovery of Guillen's body and a confrontation with police. His accused accomplice, Cecily Aguilar, remains in police custody awaiting a trail that's been delayed several times. Aguilar is accused of helping Robinson in his attempts destroy Vanessa's body, then helping him bury her remains.
Senator Blanco told KDBC-TV, “Our military failed to protect Specialist Vanessa Guillén and countless others from sexual assault, with my bill, Texas is leading by example in protecting our service members and providing justice to victims.”
How Prevalent is Sexual Assault in the Military?
Sexual assault in the United States military has been a serious issue for many decades. A report by The Daily Beast from Dec. 2011 is quoted as saying, "Women in the military are now more likely to be raped by fellow soldiers than they are to be killed in combat."
In the fiscal year 2020, The Department of Defense reported 7,816 reports of sexual assault, up 1% from the previous year. One of the biggest issues is that the victims of sexual harassments or sexual assault think the military is covering up the reported cases.
Maj. Gen. Clement Coward, director of the DOD’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office says, “DOD leadership is committed to providing the men and women who defend this country with workplaces where dignity and respect, and inclusion are the norm. While some progress has been made to achieve that goal, we must do more to prevent this crime. We look forward to the recommendations forthcoming from Secretary’s Independent Review Commission. We will take decisive action to implement every recommendation accepted by the President and the Secretary."
The Vanessa Guillen Act will give victims another route to pursue here in Texas and at bases across the nation for those not comfortable reporting their experiences to those in command.