TUCSON— This week, Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva joined House colleagues in a letter demanding that Department of Defense Acting Inspector General Sean O’Donnell immediately open an investigation into the death of Army Spc. Vanessa Guillen at Fort Hood, Texas. After missing for over two months, investigators discovered her body last week and revealed that she had allegedly been bludgeoned to death on the base by a fellow soldier. The attorney for Guillen’s family alleges that prior to her death Guillen was going to file a sexual harassment complaint against the suspect and had expressed to her family that she felt unsafe at Fort Hood.
“Spc. Vanessa Guillen entered the military to serve the country she loved, and the U.S. Army failed to protect her,” said Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva. “The military has consistently turned a blind eye to a toxic culture of sexual harassment, assault, and violence against women—and Vanessa’s case is the latest example. My heart is with her family during this difficult time, and I’m proud to join my colleagues in demanding the independent investigation they deserve.”
In their letter, the lawmakers reiterated their support for an independent investigation by the Department of Defense Inspector General and highlighted the military’s subpar response to handling sexual assault and harassment within their ranks, especially regarding women of color.
“This epidemic of sexual violence disproportionately impacts women of color, who are also less likely to report their sexual harassment or assault out of fear of retaliation,” the Members wrote. “This is deeply concerning given that the ranks of the United States military have become more diverse over time. Latinos are the fastest growing population in the military, accounting for up to 16% of all active-duty military. Yet, we are hopeful that a full and independent investigation by the DoD Inspector General’s Office will begin to provide the Guillen family with the answers and justice they seek.”