Veterans gather before Cecily Aguilar sentencing to raise awareness of sexual assault in the military
WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Before her disappearance in 2020 Vanessa Guillen told her family members that she had been sexually assaulted at Fort Cavazos and was scared about reporting it.
In the months after her disappearance protests across the country brought attention to sexual assault and sexual harrasment in the military.
More than three years after those protests, on Monday morning, veterans from all over the state of Texas showed up at the federal courthouse in Waco to call for change, ahead of Cecily Aguilar’s sentencing trial.
”We are here to be a voice for all of the other female veterans who were murdered,” veteran Nichole Griffin said.
Many of these supporters have been there with the Guillen family since the first peaceful protest in front of the Fort Cavazos gates on June 12, 2020.
”She will never be forgotten and her family will always have our support as female veterans,” Griffin said.
They say they wanted to bring light to their own experiences of sexual assault in the military.
”I’m a sexual assault survivor and there are many others out there who are in my shoes,” veteran Jessica Roque said.
They also want to let other soldiers know that they can always seek help.
“I’m a female first, a veteran second,” Griffin said. “We want to let them know that just because something bad happens to you, you can seek support and you can overcome it.”
Although one chapter closed today with Aguilar’s 30 year prison sentence, supporters say this fight to bring awareness to sexual assault and sexual harassment won’t end anytime soon.
”Vanessa’s legacy will live on, but there are also many other veterans and women that their stories unfortunately weren’t able to be told and that’s the reason why all of us are here,” Roque said.
Many of the supporters in attendance here applauded the recent federal Vanessa Guillen Act signed into law in 2021. The law changed the way the military handles sexual assault and sexual harassment investigations to outside service members’ chain of command.
Supporters say they would like to see similar pieces of legislation eventually become law.
The Guillen family attorney also said on Monday that they are also moving forward with their wrongful death lawsuit against the U.S. Army.
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