Texas Honors Vanessa Guillén on Her 21st Birthday


Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

By Araceli Cruz

September 30, 2020

The organizers want to remember the Fort Hood soldier “as the beautiful, powerful, and warrior she was and still is.”

Friends, family, and supporters of Vanessa Guillén’s memory are honoring the life of the Fort Hood soldier on what would have been her 21st birthday. The Find Vanessa Guillen organization is hosting a full day of remembrance in Texas that includes a walk, a mariachi performance, a dance performance, a butterfly release, and words by her family.

“Vanessa’s life was taken away too soon, and yet 154 days have passed, still no answers, accountability, and justice,” the group said in a Facebook post. “The Guillén Family will be honoring Vanessa and will have a public heavenly birthday to honor and celebrate her beautiful and beloved life. We ask everyone to join us all around the nation and remember Vanessa Guillén as the beautiful, powerful, and warrior she was and still is.”

RELATED: US Congress Officially Launches Investigation Into Fort Hood Deaths

The Pink Berets, a group dedicated to helping female veterans and service members in the military, will be hosting a march in San Antonio starting at the Alas de México statue at Hemisfair. 

“I’m feeling hopeful that the country is watching a very pivotal change in addressing military sexual trauma through the Vanessa Guillén Bill,” Stephanie Gattas, founder, and CEO of the Pink Berets, said in an interview with San Antonio Current. “It’s important to not just address why or how [Guillen’s death] happened but how to prevent it from happening again through extensive advocacy efforts and education.”

Vanessa’s Legacy: Military Reform 

Earlier this month, Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) and a group of legislators introduced the bipartisan “I Am Vanessa Guillén” Act on Capitol Hill. The bill has bipartisan support and is expected to pass in the Senate. 

“The army at Fort Hood failed her,” Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-Texas) said during the press conference on Sept. 16. “But in her name, we are making changes, so this never happens again.” 


RELATED: The Military Could Finally See Sweeping Changes Under the ‘I Am Vanessa Guillén’ Act

The bill is an answer to resounding calls for reform in the way the military responds to missing service members, as well as reports of sexual harassment and sexual assault. It makes sexual harassment a crime within the Uniform Code of Military Justice and moves prosecution decisions of sexual assault and sexual harassment cases out of the chain of command. 

Calls for Justice, Five Months Later

While some change is underway at Fort Hood, including leadership changes at the base, her family says more need to be done. 

“Five months have passed, and yet no justice has been obtained,” they wrote on Instagram. “So many questions than answers, how many more days without true justice? Ryan McCarthy, Secretary of the Army, yet again has ignored emails and messages from the Guillén Family. Five months have passed and his responsibilities are all matters relating to the U.S Army, which also includes Army soldiers and their families.”




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