Legislation honoring Vanessa Guillen to be introduced on Capitol Hill

Federal legislation honoring Houstonian Vanessa Guillen will be introduced on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.

Guillen was an army specialist at Fort Hood who was killed by a fellow soldier earlier this year. Before her disappearance and death, she complained to her family about sexual harassment on base.

The I Am Vanessa Guillen Act of 2020 has bipartisan support. The lead sponsors are U.S. Representatives Jackie Speier (D-CA) and Markwayne Mullin (R-OK). Houston-area Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia (TX-29) and Congressman Pete Olson (TX-22), a Democrat and Republican, are co-sponsors.

Congress investigates Fort Hood following soldier deaths

Congress will launch an investigation into sexual assault, disappearances, deaths and the leadership’s response at Fort Hood after 28 soldiers stationed at the U.S. Army base in Texas died this year, two subcommittee leaders announced Tuesday.

The bill seeks to change how reports of sexual assault and harassment are dealt with in the military and how the military deals with missing service members. It would allow for an independent prosecutor to investigate cases of sexual violence and make sexual harassment and sexual assault a crime with the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Currently, sexual harassment is typically addressed through administrative sanctions.

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Teelia Lowery, a retired Staff Sargeant with the U.S. Army, wishes the bill would have been law when she reported her harasser.

"When I made my complaint, I felt like the end result was me getting punished because he still remained in his position. He still remained my superior. He had the ability to get me promoted or demoted, and he pretty much like had my career in his hands " Lowery told FOX 26.

The harassment, she says, also happened while she was stationed at Fort Hood. She believes she got passed on a promotion as retaliation for her complaint.

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Local artists stepped up to create 20 murals around the Houston area to honor the life of 20-year-old Spc. Vanessa Guillen. Here's where to find them.

This week, the Guillen family and their attorney, Natalie Khawam, are on Capitol Hill for the introduction of the bill. This while there is increased scrutiny of Fort Hood, and a congressional investigation launched into its chain of command.

So far this year, 28 soldiers have died on base.

"We cannot allow our soldiers to be in such an unsafe place. They are stationed there, they're not in war, they should not be dying at a base," Khawam said.

The most recent reported deaths were of two Navajo soldiers.

Navajo Nation calls for investigation into Fort Hood deaths

The Navajo Nation has joined calls for an accounting of the deaths at Fort Hood after one of its members became the latest soldier from the U.S. Army post in Texas to die.