Vanessa Guillen, a 20-year-old soldier from Texas, disappeared in April 2020 for an unexplained reason. For a few months, no one was aware of her location.
After the man who had killed Guillen committed suicide, his bones were found in July 2020. Further investigation indicated that he experienced serious mental health problems as a result of sexual harassment while working at the US Army base in Fort Hood, Texas. .
On Friday, August 12, 2022, more than two years after Vanessa Guillén’s death, her family filed a lawsuit against the United States of America, claiming $35 million in damages. The lawsuit was sparked by a decision made in San Francisco on Thursday, August 11, by a three-judge panel of the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that an Army colonel could proceed with a lawsuit against a former General of the Air Force for a complaint of sexual assault.
The Guillen family is suing the military for sexual assault, harassment, abuse, rape, sodomy and manslaughter of their daughter.
Vanessa Guillen’s case is a big step forward for victims of sexual assault in the military
Assaulted and harassed women are repressed every day in a field that has long been dominated by men. Victims who are pressured to remain silent or risk the wrath of such institutions are plagued by fear of retaliation.
Guillen was also forced to remain silent for fear of repercussions. At least two cases of sexual harassment suffered by the young soldier at her base camp are mentioned in the lawsuit filed by the Guillén family.
Guillén’s mental health was severely damaged by these incidents, to the point where he frequently considered suicide. His brutal murder brought to light the dangerous working conditions experienced by female troops. Several military and former soldiers used the hashtag #IAmVanessaGuillen to broadcast their personal accounts of being harassed at base camps.
The military justice reform bill, which will remove all authority from military commanders and give prosecutors independent agency when allegations of sexual assault and other serious crimes are filed, was prompted by the horrific death of Fort Hood soldier .