Private First Class (PFC) Vanessa Guillen’s tragic murder at Fort Hood, Texas is shocking. Unfortunately, for women who have served it isn’t surprising. We know that it will happen again and again and again if the military is not finally held to account for this latest incident of fratricide. The harassment, assault and even murder of service women is ubiquitous across the military services.
There is a long history of incidents of sexual harassment and assault as documented by repeated crimes such as: Tailhook (1991), Aberdeen (1996), Air Force Academy (2003), Lackland (2011), Naval Academy (2013), West Point (2013), and VMI (2019). Worse, there is a long list of service women who have been murdered in the military including: Private LaVena Johnson (2005), Private Tina Priest (2006), Specialist Kamisha Block (2007), Lance Corporal Maria Frances Lauterbach (2007) and Specialist Cecelia Cole (2015).
Despite pledge after pledge after pledge to reform the military and repeated claims of zero tolerance, the abuse of service women continues and is getting worse. According to DOD’s own data, 1 in 4 women who serve in the military will be victims of a sexual assault and we know that ALL will experience sexual harassment.
When Vanessa Guillen went missing her mother alerted military authorities that her daughter told her that she was being sexually harassed by a superior. Although the Soldier who killed Vanessa was not in her direct chain of command, he did out-rank her. Military authorities are attempting to downplay the report from her mother stating that they have no “credible” evidence that she was being harassed. Vanessa Guillen’s mother IS a credible source just like scores of service women who report being harassed and assaulted. Victims must be BELIEVED!
We demand systemic change so that there will never be another Vanessa Guillen. We demand the following actions:
1. An outside, independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding Vanessa Guillen’s disappearance and murder that includes an examination of the culture that pervades Fort Hood.
2. Removal of the entire chain of command, including the Fort Hood Commanding General and the Installation Commander.
3. Allow for independent military prosecutors to make prosecutorial decisions for felonious crimes like sexual assault and murder.
4. Hold to account any service member who is found to have retaliated against victims who report sexual harassment or assault.
We stand in solidarity with Vanessa Guillen’s family.
THE MILITARY WOMEN’S COALITION
Combat Female Veterans Families United
GA Military Women
Lady Veterans Connect
Lambda Beta Alpha Military Sorority
Melwood Veteran Services
Northeast Florida Women Veterans
Protect Our Defenders
Red Feather Ranch
San Diego Women Veterans Network
Service Women’s Action Network
Service: Women Who Serve
Veteran Women Enterprise Center
WINC: For All Women Veterans
Women in Military Service For America Memorial Foundation, Inc.
Women Veterans of West Texas
Women Veterans Alliance
Women Veteran Social Justice Network
The MWC is a national group of formal and informal organizations who work collaboratively to serve and support US active duty, Guard, reserve, Veteran and retired service women by uniting and elevating their voices to influence policy and improve their well-being. Collectively, the MWC represents over 1.6 million members and supporters. Our vision is that someday military women are fully integrated, equally respected and equally supported members of the military and veteran community and their contributions are recognized as essential to national defense.
Military Women’s Coalition
441 4th Street NW, Suite 707N
Washington, DC 20001