Washington, DC – Congresswoman Jackie Speier (CA-14), Chair of the House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee, will convene the first U.S. House of Representatives Hearing focused on the sexual harassment SPC Vanessa Guillén suffered prior to her disappearance and murder at Fort Hood, and will review the lack of reporting of sexual harassment in the Department of Defense writ large due to a fear of retaliation and history of coverup. The July 29th hearing will examine the results of the independent Inspector General’s review of Fort Hood’s Sexual Harassment/Assault Response Program in light of hundreds of servicemembers who have come forward to share their disturbing experiences with sexual assault and harassment in solidarity with the late SPC Guillén.
Since news of SPC Guillén’s disappearance and murder went viral due to her family’s heroic efforts to make the case known publicly, Chair Speier has worked with Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia (TX-29) to get to the bottom of what the Army knew, when it knew it, and why it waited until Vanessa’s disappearance had gone viral online to significantly expand its investigation and take steps like obtaining phone records, interviewing key witnesses, and arresting the prime suspect, who continued to live in the barracks with no restrictions for two months after SPC Guillén was murdered.
“The death of SPC Vanessa Guillén is a national tragedy that has triggered rightful outrage but also galvanized Americans across the country in demanding that the military finally be held to account for its history of sexual harassment and assault. This toxic environment means our women servicemembers must be constantly on guard against enemies inside and outside their ranks,” said Congresswoman Jackie Speier, Chair of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel. “The Guillén family and Congress demand and deserve a full account of what the Army knew, when they knew it, and what could have been done to avoid this tragedy. On July 29, I will chair a hearing to address the underreporting of sexual harassment due to fear of retaliation; examine DoD’s—and particularly Fort Hood’s—programs for preventing and responding to sexual harassment and assault, and hear from survivors about their experiences and how to ensure that harassers and assailants will be held accountable. We must do everything possible so that Vanessa’s death will not be in vain. Though she may no longer be with us physically, her legacy and spirit can and will live on as the catalyst for change that all of our servicemembers need and deserve.”
“This is yet another step in our Congressional oversight and investigative work in the Spc. Vanessa Guillén case. I want to thank Rep. Jackie Speier, Chair of the Military Personnel Subcommittee, for her commitment to making sure we get justice for Vanessa and taking the necessary steps to prevent this from ever happening again to another soldier. Together with many of our colleagues in the House of Representatives, we are ready to tackle head on sexual assault and harassment in the military,” said Congresswoman Garcia.
Who: Congresswoman Jackie Speier, MILPERS Chair
Dr. Nate Galbreath, SAPRO Deputy Director
Col. Patrick Wemple, FORSCOM Command IG
Survivors and more TBA
What: MILPERS hearing on sexual harassment in the Military, at Fort Hood
When: Wednesday, July 29, at 10 a.m. ET
Where: 2118 Rayburn House Office Building, U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C.
Note: Livestream of the press event will be available here.