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Vanessa Guillen, Fort Hood discussed during House subcommittee hearing

Published: Jul. 29, 2020 at 11:47 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 30, 2020 at 10:31 AM CDT
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FORT HOOD, Texas (KWTX) - As thousands continue to push for change in the culture of the military, lawmakers met Wednesday to discuss sexual harassment, assault and the culture on Fort Hood.

“For all that we have done, not much has changed...we haven’t fixed it,” said Congresswoman Jackie Speier.

The hearing by the House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee also addressed the sexual harassment claims and murder of Specialist Vanessa Guillen.

Last month, Army officials were sent to Fort Hood to review the Sexual Harassment and Assault Program and the culture on post. Col. Patrick Wempe, the FORSCOM inspector general, presented the findings.

“At Fort Hood, we observed a SHARP program needing to improve in certain areas but one which units generally execute the standard,” said Wempe. “The concern as expressed to us was not one of trust but those junior leaders that may not have the life or military experience to deal with the situation presented to them.”

Wempe says over 225 soldiers from 12 battalions and six brigades were surveyed.

“Fort Hood leaders were receptive and committed to making necessary changes in identified shortfalls,” he said.

The review also found 18 out of the 52 women surveyed reported being sexually harassed. Those numbers shocking to members of the committee.

“If we’re seeing reporting of one-third of the women being sexually harassed, we have a murder on Fort Hood, I have grave concerns about how we’re measuring success…I think we’re failing,” said Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill.

At the time, Guillen’s regiment, 3rd Cavalry, were not part of the original review. The day they were suppose to be surveyed, her remains were found near the Leon River in Bell County.

Guillen’s family believes she was afraid to report her alleged harassment and that it contributed to her death. They, along with their attorney Natalie Khawam, will present the #IAmVanessaGuillen bill Thursday.

Veterans and survivors of harassment and assault say change must happen now.

“Who are the people not reporting? They are privates, the lieutenants, the sergeants, commanders…the ones who don’t feel safe reporting. They are the Vanessa Guillens,” said Lucy Del Gaudio. “There are no protection for our victims, there is no accountability for predators.”

Speier says she will continue to push for justice through legislation.

“Every step will be pursued to find justice,” she added. “I intend to lead a CODEL to Fort Hood within the next month.”

Copyright 2020 KWTX. All rights reserved.

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