Protect Our Defenders News Blog


***STATEMENT*** Netflix Releases “I Am Vanessa Guillen” Documentary; Details Guillen Family’s Fight to Reform Military Justice System

November 15, 2022

Netflix Releases “I Am Vanessa Guillen” Documentary; Details Guillen Family’s Fight to Reform Military Justice System

Netflix producers consulted Protect Our Defenders to help uplift military sexual assault survivors’ stories and hold the archaic miltary justice system accountable

Washington, DC – On Thursday, Netflix will release “I Am Vanessa Guillen,” a seminal documentary  following the family of U.S. Army Spc. Vanessa Guillen and their work to change how the military justice system manages sexual assault and harrassment cases after her murder. “I am Vannessa Guillen” chronicles two Guillen sisters’ tireless commitment to fight for legislative action in Vanessa Guillen’s name. The documentary sheds light on the ongoing issues of sexual violence, trauma, and racism prevalent within the military and systematically covered up by leadership.

Protect Our Defenders (POD) was honored to work with the Netflix team to help expose the failures of the military justice system. The film follows the movement spurred by Vanessa’s murder, culminating in the passage of the most transformative military justice reform in United States history – the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) – which will empower independent military prosecutors to determine whether those accused of sexual assault, rape, murder, domestic violence and seven other serious offenses will be prosecuted. 

The resilience and bravery of the Guillen family, the tenacity of advocates and survivors, bipartisan federal support led by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Representative Jackie Speier, and Protect Our Defenders’ 2020 presidential candidate pledge – with President Joe Biden’s commitment – to put military justice in the hands of professionals, were all critical in achieving this legislative victory and endeavoring to honor the life of Vanessa Guillen. 

Col. Don Christensen (ret.), the former Chief Prosecutor of the United States Air Force and President of Protect Our Defenders, released the following statement:

“The military has a sad history of ignoring sexual assault and harassment, as well as dragging its feet in implementing reform.  

“Sharing survivors’ stories is critical to advancing lasting reform and holding the military accountable to actually put reforms in practice. This documentary is a powerful testament to the bravery and persistence of the Guillen family. Protect Our Defenders applauds today’s release of Netflix’s ‘I am Vanessa Guillen’ documentary. 

“This one family’s refusal to stay silent sparked a movement that directly led to the most transformative military justice reform in our nation’s history. Protect Our Defenders is proud to have worked on this reform. We were founded to be a voice for military sexual assault survivors and to ensure that their bosses weren’t in charge of deciding whether or not they would get justice for what happened to them.

“We cannot stop here. The nation’s largest employer must commit to implementing and enforcing military justice reform if it wishes to retain and recruit the best and brightest. 

“We thank the Guillen family, survivors, advocates, and allies for their tireless work. Reform would not be possible without their strength.”