Family, friends say goodbye to Spc. Vanessa Guillen in private ceremony

Holding U.S. flags, veterans honored Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen as her casket arrived at Holy Name Catholic Church in Houston.

The funeral service was private -- only Guillen's family, their closest friends, and some city leaders.

"She's Houston's own and that's what makes us so very proud," said Mayor Sylvester Turner.

The 20-year-old was reported missing in April while on base at Fort Hood. Her body found more than two months later.

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Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo says he accepted the Guillen family's request to independently identify the soldier's remains.

"They don't trust Fort Hood. They're having a hard time trusting the military," he explained. "We were able to independently confirm and we did that because it was the right thing to do and it brought comfort to the family that they were actually bringing their own daughter to rest."

"Even though she has tragically died young, her legacy will be long-lasting bringing about a great deal of change even within the military," added Turner.

Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia also attended the funeral service. She says she is continuing to push for a congressional investigation of the leadership and Fort Hood and change in the way the U.S. military handles reports of sexual harassment. Garcia has named a bill in Guillen's honor.


"[The bill] will take the complaint process out of the chain of command and provide for independent prosecutor, chief prosecutor, which is really, really critically important," Garcia explained. "Because what we're hearing on many of these cases, and regrettably there are just too many, is that the soldier is afraid of making the complaint because of fear of retaliation."

Guillen's final resting place is Forest Park Lawndale Cemetery.