Speier, Mullin Introduce Bipartisan ‘I Am Vanessa Guillén Act’ to Transform the Military’s Response to Sexual Violence & Missing Servicemembers (September 16, 2020)

PLEASE CONTACT YOUR REPRESENTATIVE, SENATORS, AND THE SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE & HOUSE ARMED SERVICE COMMITTEE TO EXPRESS YOUR SUPPORT FOR THE I AM VANESSA GUILLEN BILL.

Army Soldiers at Fort Hood in Texas Are Dying at Alarming Rates Stateside (January 1, 2016 to Present)

Washington D.C. Veteran’s Presentation on the Current Status of Forces at Fort Hood in Texas (December 12, 2017)

HASC Congressional Investigation of Fort Hood: Research Reveals Pattern of Suspicious Deaths and Cover-up (September 11, 2020)

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Speier, Mullin Introduce Bipartisan I Am Vanessa Guillén Act to Transform the Military’s Response to Sexual Violence and Missing Servicemembers

Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA), Chair of the House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee, and Congressman Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), along with co-leads Reps. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX), John Carter (R-TX), Veronica Escobar (D-TX), Pete Olson (R-TX), Gilbert R. Cisneros, Jr. (D-TX), Troy Balderson (R-OH), Jason Crow (D-CO), and Will Hurd (R-TX), and 94 additional co-sponsors, introduced the I am Vanessa Guillén Act in honor of the late SPC Vanessa Guillén and the many survivors of military sexual violence who have bravely come forward in the wake of her disappearance and brutal murder. The legislation responds to these resounding calls for change by offering provisions that would revolutionize the military’s response to missing servicemembers and reports of sexual harassment and sexual assault by making sexual harassment a crime within the Uniform Code of Military Justice and moving prosecution decisions of sexual assault and sexual harassment cases out of the chain of command. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. Senate today. This morning, following a meeting with the Guillén family, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a commitment to hold a House floor vote on the I am Vanessa Guillén Act. President Trump previously announced his support for the bill during a White House meeting with the Guillén family.

SPC Guillén’s disappearance and brutal murder became the catalyst for long overdue change when her family refused to let her case be neglected by Army leadership at Fort Hood. The Guillén family supports the I Am Vanessa Guillen Act, and Chair Speier is also leading a congressional delegation this weekend to Fort Hood to further investigate matters at the base and speak with servicemembers at all levels about their experiences and how best to accelerate the cultural change that is so urgently needed.

Specifically, the I Am Vanessa Guillén Act would:

-Move prosecution decisions on sexual assault and sexual harassment cases outside of the chain of command to an Office of the Chief Prosecutor within each military service;

-Create a standalone military offense for sexual harassment;

-Establish trained sexual harassment investigators who are outside of the chain of command of the complainant and the accused;

-Create a confidential reporting process for sexual harassment that is integrated with DoD’s Catch a Serial Offender database;

-Require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to investigate the military’s procedures for finding missing servicemembers and compare with procedures used by civilian law enforcement and best practices;

-Require both DoD and GAO to conduct separate evaluations of the military services’ Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) programs; and

-Establish a process by which servicemembers can make claims for negligence and seek compensatory damages against DoD in the case of sexual assault or sexual harassment.

“Military leadership has repeatedly failed to reduce sexual harassment, sexual assault, and violent crime at Fort Hood, one of the worst sites for attacks according to Army officials, and throughout the armed forces,” Chair Speier said. “The endless cycle of harassment, assault, and retaliation for those who speak out reveals the deep roots of a toxic culture we must eradicate so that survivors are taken seriously and treated with respect, and assailants are held accountable. The I Am Vanessa Guillén Act would do this by providing survivors independent investigations for both sexual harassment and sexual assault reports and independent charging decisions for courts-martial. It would also make sexual harassment a criminal offense in the military, helping get to the core of an issue that too often leads to violence and destroys careers, and lives. The Guillén family and legions of former and current servicemembers are demanding bold change. Congress must seize this moment and deliver on that demand for change by passing the I Am Vanessa Guillén Act.”

“The issue of sexual assault and sexual harassment in the military isn’t a Democrat or Republican issue – it’s an American issue,” Congressman Mullin said. “We must strengthen the military’s ability to protect its most important resource, which is the people who willingly sign-up to protect all Americans. The I Am Vanessa Guillén Act will also encourage survivors to come forward to report sexual assaults and sexual harassment and to provide justice. This is about protecting our men and women in uniform and I will keep fighting so no family has to go through what the Guillén family has gone through.”

“From the moment I started working with the Guillén family in May, I made it clear I would not stop until we found Vanessa and got justice in her name,” Congresswoman Garcia said. “The I Am Vanessa Guillén Act of 2020 is a transformative and comprehensive bill that will help save lives and give our soldiers an avenue to report sexual assault and harassment without fear – a lasting legacy in honor of Vanessa. I want the Guillén family to know that Congress, the Houston region, and the entire world stands with you and we won’t stop until we get justice for Vanessa.”

“First and foremost, my heart goes out to the Guillén family, no one should ever have to experience the pain they’ve experienced,” Congressman Carter said. “The men and women that selflessly serve our nation deserve to feel safe to report misconduct and feel confident that their issues will be fairly handled. There is absolutely no place for sexual misconduct in the United States military and we must take these steps to ensure that accountability is realized.”

“The unspeakable tragedy of Specialist Vanessa Guillén’s murder has shed new light and revealed to the American public the epidemic of unchecked sexual harassment and assault that too many service members have suffered,” Congresswoman Escobar said. “Specialist Guillén – and all servicemembers – deserve respect and justice, and it’s our obligation to protect those who bravely put their lives on the line for our country. We can’t continue the same approaches that have failed victims. Congress must respond to this moment of reckoning with new solutions to tackle this epidemic and pass the I Am Vanessa Guillén Act.”

“The tragedy that befell PFC Vanessa Guillén was horrific and reflects a growing problem in our Armed Forces. Our military members should never fear harassment or violence while defending our nation,” Congressman Olson said. “As a Navy veteran, I’m proud to support the I am Vanessa Guillen Act, which is an important step towards getting justice for PFC Guillén and other service members like her. It ensures there is a stand-alone military offense for sexual harassment and requires the GAO to review how our military processes missing service members in cases of suspected foul play compared to civilian law enforcement. By working together and demanding accountability, we can prevent the next tragedy. Our military must maintain higher standards and we will not be silent on this issue.”

“Year after year, we see an increase in reports of sexual assault and sexual harassment in our military and the same statements from military leadership about how unacceptable they are. It’s far past time we take bold action to bring accountability to the system and give survivors support,” Congressman Cisneros said. “In the memory of Specialist Vanessa Guillén, Republicans and Democrats are coming together to make legislative fixes to protect our men and women in uniform. I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing the bipartisan I am Vanessa Guillén Act to provide the necessary support and resources for survivors of sexual assault and sexual harassment in our military. Our servicemembers and military families deserve to have the peace of mind that they’ll be heard and treated with dignity and respect.”

“Ohio is home to thousands of active duty servicemembers who risk their lives for our nation, and in return, it’s our country’s obligation to ensure their safety,” Congressman Balderson said. “In honor of Vanessa Guillén, this legislation will take important steps to ensure survivors of sexual assault and sexual harassment in our military can tell their stories without retribution and seek the justice they deserve.”

“As a soldier, I remember going to basic training to learn everything from marksmanship to the chain of command. The military is supposed to train new recruits on the essential tasks of the job, but we still don’t do nearly enough to address sexual assault in the ranks. We need to make sure we are creating a system and culture of accountability in the military to protect our women and men in uniform. For too long, sexual assault and violence has gone unaddressed,” Congressman Crow said. “The military failed Vanessa Guillén but I refuse to let Congress fail her or her family. It is Congress that decides what kind of military we have and now it is Congress’ responsibility to step up and pass the I AM Vanessa Guillén to protect our women and men in uniform.”

“We must work to ensure what happened to Vanessa Guillén never happens again,” Congressman Hurd said.“The I Am Vanessa Guillén Act of 2020 will protect soldiers like Vanessa by ensuring independent investigations occur in assault and harassment cases. This will better safeguard our soldiers from retaliation and help prevent these atrocious acts from ever happening in the first place.”

“Vanessa Guillén’s story makes painfully clear the need for a better response to sexual harassment and sexual assault in the military,” Senator Hirono said. The I Am Vanessa Guillén Act knocks down barriers to reporting sexual harassment and sexual assault and directly addresses the culture that protects the perpetrators of these crimes. It’s time to make a system that respects and protects survivors.”

The I Am Vanessa Guillén Act will fundamentally reform reporting and investigation of sexual harassment in the military and transform prosecution of sexual harassment and assault by empowering an independent prosecutor, within each military service, to bring charges. The bill will also allow servicemembers who were sexually harassed or sexually assaulted to pursue monetary claims against DoD and will also require a comprehensive GAO review of the military’s sexual harassment and assault prevention and response programs, as well as the military’s procedures for responding to missing servicemembers.

A fact sheet and the text of the bill are attached to this press release.

Introduction of I Am Vanessa Guillen Act:

This is a hearing by the Subcommittee on Military Personnel, looking into sexual harassment allegations and how they’re responded to. It’s also looking into Fort Hood’s sexual assault and response program. This hearing is taking place a day before Vanessa Guillen’s family meets with President Trump and legislation is introduced. -KHOU 11 (July 29, 2020)
Rep. Speier, family of murdered soldier Vanessa Guillen on legislation in her honor -PBS News Hour (September 16, 2020)
Lawmakers introduce the I Am Vanessa Guillen Act -HD Vision (September 17, 2020)

Related Files:
Fact Sheet – I am Vanessa Guillen Act Press Fact Sheet.pdf 
2020-09-15 I Am Vanessa Guillen Bill Text.pdf

In the News:

“The IamVanessaGuillen Bill is a BiPartisan Bill. It is NOT a political issue, it’s a human rights issue,” Guillen family attorney Natalie Khawam wrote. -KCEN News (September 16, 2020)
Speaker Pelosi to reportedly bring ‘I am Vanessa Guillen’ Act to U.S. House floor for vote -25 News KXXV (September 16, 2020)
Vanessa Guillén’s family members speak during a news conference about the “I Am Vanessa Guillén Act,” in honor of the late U.S. Army Specialist and survivors of military sexual violence. -KXAN (September 16, 2020)
The ‘I am Vanessa Guillen’ bill was presented to Congress Wednesday, but what does it mean for the future of military service members facing sexual harassment. -KHOU 11 (September 16, 2020)

Related Links:
Hearing: “The Military’s #MeToo Moment”
Rep. Speier, family of murdered soldier Vanessa Guillen on legislation in her honor
Lawmakers introduce the I Am Vanessa Guillen Act
Watch Live | #IAmVanessaGuillen Bill introduced in D.C.
Bill honoring Vanessa Guillen introduced in Washington D.C. Wednesday
Speaker Pelosi to reportedly bring ‘I am Vanessa Guillen’ Act to U.S. House floor for vote
Vanessa Guillén’s family members speak about the “I Am Vanessa Guillén Act”
What is the ‘I am Vanessa Guillen’ bill?

HOR Oversight Subcommittee on National Security & Foreign Affairs Held a Hearing on Sexual Assault in the Military (July 31, 2008)

The Oversight Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs holds a hearing, “Sexual Assault in the Military.” Here Subcommittee Chairman John Tierney gives opening remarks. -Nancy Pelosi

The Oversight Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs holds a hearing, “Sexual Assault in the Military.” Panel one is Reps. Louise Slaughter (NY-28) and Jane Harman (CA-36). -Nancy Pelosi


The Oversight Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs holds a hearing, “Sexual Assault in the Military.” Panel one is Reps. Louise Slaughter (NY-28) and Jane Harman (CA-36). -Nancy Pelosi

The Oversight Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs holds a hearing, “Sexual Assault in the Military.” Panel two is Ingrid Torres, MSW, CSW and Mary Lauterbach, Mother of Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach. -Nancy Pelosi

The Oversight Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs holds a hearing, “Sexual Assault in the Military.” Panel two is Ingrid Torres, MSW, CSW and Mary Lauterbach, Mother of Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach. -Nancy Pelosi

The Oversight Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs holds a hearing, “Sexual Assault in the Military.” Panel three includes representatives of the Defense Department, the Army, and the GAO. -Nancy Pelosi

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In the News:

The Other PTSD – Sexual Abuse of Women in the Military -NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams (May 4, 2007)

Congress takes on the Department of Defense in the first oversight hearing held this year by the subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs on sexual assault in the military. Some House members are accusing the DOD of a cover up. -American News Project (August 2, 2008)

According to recent GAO survey, a female soldier is more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than die by enemy fire in Iraq. David Martin reports on this startling increase. -CBS Evening News (October 28, 2008)

MST: Military Sexual Trauma -CBS Evening News (October 28, 2008)

Katie Couric investigates an alarming trend in the U.S. military, as more and more female soldiers have come forward with tales of sexual abuse at the hands of male soldiers and superior officers. -CBS News (March 17, 2009)

Women and men from all branches of the US military spoke out in Washington Tuesday about sexual assault in the ranks. They were all military sexual assault survivors — appearing at a summit held to call attention to the issue. The US military has announced new efforts to combat these crimes. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti brings us the issue through the eyes of two women, both survivors of alleged sexual attacks. -VOA News (May 8, 2012)

DAYTON – The military is fighting another battle, an “invisible war” on sexual assault. Today, Congressman Mike Turner talked about an award-winning documentary that sheds light on that very topic. -WKEF/WRGT (September 5, 2012)

New provisions handed down from the Department of Defense are giving sexual assault victims in the military rights they never had before.It’s all thanks to the fight from Congressman Mike Turner and a local mother. -WKEF/WRGT (August 15, 2013)

A major hurdle cleared for sexual assault victims in the military.Congress passed a bill that would give victims rights and protection they never had before.The push came after the tragic murder of local marine Maria Lauterbach and her unborn son.Maria’s mother, Mary, was thrilled when she heard the news that the bill had passed the Senate. -WKEFandWRGT (December 20, 2013)

Sexual assault in the military is being reported more and more everyday.But our military is now learning how to protect themselves and teaching civilians the same thing. -WKEF/WRGT (March 10, 2014)

DAYTON — Today, Congressman Michael Turner (R-OH), Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces, hosted Congresswoman Niki Tsongas (D-MA), at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Turner says he and Tsongas have worked together since 2007 to eliminate sexual assault from the U.S. military. Bother co-chair the Military Sexual Assault Prevention Caucus. -WKEF/WRGT (September 9, 2014)

It is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Congressman Mike Turner was in town to talk about ways to cut down on sex assault in the military. Turner led a meeting with top brass from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and Wright State University in hopes of continuing open conversations about the issue. The objective is to educate everyone on how to prevent sexual assaults from happening in the first place. -WKEF/WRGT (April 21, 2015)

Law protecting military victims of sexual assault discussed -WDTN TV (May 1, 2018)

Congressman Mike Turner changed the laws to make women serving in the military safer. -Mike Turner (August 20, 2018)

Video Links:
The Other PTSD – Sexual Abuse of Women in the Military | NBC Nightly News
Hearing on Sexual Assault in the Military – Tierney Opening
Hearing on Sexual Assault in the Military – Rep. Harman
Hearing on Sexual Assault in the Military – Rep. Slaughter
Hearing on Sexual Assault in the Military – Torres
Hearing on Sexual Assault in the Military – Lauterbach
Hearing on Sexual Assault in the Military – Contempt for DOD
Rape in the Military: Congress Charges Cover-Up
Harassment In The Military | CBS News
MST: Military Sexual Trauma | CBS News
Sex Abuse And Female Soldiers | CBS News
Military Sexual Assault Victims Heal, Discuss Policy
DAI Offers Screening of Documentary on Sexual Assault in Military
Dept. of Defense Gives New Provisions to Military’s Victims of Sexual Assault
Major Hurdle Cleared for Victims of Sexual Assault in the Military
Defense Against Sexual Assault Class for WPAFB and Wright State University
Reps. Turner, Tsongas Talk Sexual Assault
Military Sexual Assault Awareness Month
Law protecting military victims of sexual assault discussed
Mary Lauterbach | Representative Mike Turner (Ohio)

Related Links:
Camp Lejeune Marine Maria Lauterbach & Unborn Child Murdered, Remains Discovered in Fellow Marine’s Backyard; Cesar Laurean Sentenced to Life in Prison, No Parole (December 15, 2007)
Lauterbach’s family questions handling of case
Rep. Mike Turner: Marine Corps Response Shows Lack Of Urgency For Maria Lauterbach
The hunt for the missing Marine | Dateline NBC
Raping America’s female soldiers
Mary Lauterbach To Testify At Congressional Hearing
HOR Sexual Assault in the Military Hearings (July 31, 2008)
Oversight Hearing on Sexual Assault in the Military | Nancy Pelosi
House panel blasts DOD over response to sexual assault claims
Sex Assaults Against Women in Military ‘Epidemic’
Sexual assault in military ‘jaw-dropping,’ lawmaker says
Tierney Holds Hearing on Sex Assault in Military
Tierney’s subcommittee looking into sexual assaults in the military
Sexual Assault in the Military: A DoD Cover-Up?
Rape in the military: Congress charges cover-up
Rep. Turner Demands Answers from DoD on Status of Maria Lauterbach Investigation
Front and Center: Sexual Violence in U.S. Military Law | Elizabeth L. Hillman (2009)
Laurean convicted in pregnant Marine’s death
Camp Lejeune’s Statement
Mike Turner’s Military Sexual Assault Protections Approved by House Armed Services Committee
Did the Marines Leave Two Bodies on the Field?*
Mary Lauterbach leads training sessions on sexual assault cases
Sexual Assault in the Military Part IV: Are We Making Progress?
Review of Matters Related to the Sexual Assault of Lance Corporal Maria Lauterbach, U.S. Marine Corps | DoD IG (October 18, 2011)
Carry That Weight: Victim Privacy Within the Military Sexual Assault Reporting Methods, 28 J. Marshall Computer & Info. L. 551 (2011)
Bureaucracy has blossomed in military’s war on rape
At summit, sexual assault survivors share trauma, seek change
‘A Marine’s Story’ highlights importance of preventing sexual assault
Sexual Assault in the Military: Ethical Dilemma or National Security Issue? | Georgetown University (2012)
STATE of North Carolina v. Ceasar Armando LAUREAN (May 1, 2012)
Continuing to Battle Sexual Assault within the Ranks of Our Military
Ohio congressman’s bill ensures punishment for sexual assaults in military
Lawmakers outraged over sexual assault case aim to change military justice system
Department of Defense Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military (2013)
For Tsongas and GOP colleague, a long fight on military sexual assault
Marine mother shares tragic story of daughter’s sexual assault, murder
Recalling the case that changed military sex assault laws
Mother of slain local Marine Maria Lauterbach to be honored for ‘survivorship, resilience’
Focus on Military Sexual Assault Continues in House
Sexual Assault in the Military | Quantum Units Education
A farewell to arms: Misogyny wrapped in camouflage
No Place in the Military: The Judiciary’s Failure to Compensate Victims of Military Sexual Assault and a Suggested Path Forward Using Lessons from the Prison Context
The Politics of Sex Abuse in Sacred Hierarchies: a Comparative Study of the Catholic Church and the Military in the United States 1
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