President Trump meets with the family of Vanessa Guillen
At the White House on July 30, Vanessa Guillen’s family and their attorney pleaded for President Trump to deliver justice for the deceased soldier.
In a visit to Washington D.C., the family of Vanessa Guillen wanted to shed light on the stories of thousands of victims of sexual misconduct in the military and advocate for reforms that would allow people to come through to tell their stories.
Guillen was an American soldier at Fort Hood in Texas who went missing for nearly three months. It was later found out that she was brutally murdered by fellow army specialist, Aaron Robinson.
On July 3, the army confirmed that remains found in Leon River were from the missing soldier.
Robinson and his girlfriend tried to dismember and burn Guillen’s body before disposing of it.
He shot himself as police were approaching him and his girlfriend could face a sentence of 20 years for her involvement
Ever since the story caught national headlines, the hashtag #IAmVanessaGuillen started trending and it was full of thousands of other service members that shared their accounts of sexualt assault and its prevalence in the military.
This led to a response from members of Congress and the president.
Representatives Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., and Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, are cosponsoring a bill that is named after the hashtag. The attorney representing the Guillen family, Natalie Khawan, helped write parts of the legislation.
The bill seeks to change current military harassment policy by having a victim go to a third-party supervisor instead of a commanding officer to make their claims.
Now Guillen’s family and their attorney are calling for a federal investigation into claims of sexual assault she faced in the miliary. It is suspected she did not file an official report because she feared retaliation from higher authorities for speaking out.
On Thursday, they led a march from Capitol Hill to the White House where President Trump was waiting to meet with them.
Once in the Oval Office, Gloria Guillen, Vanessa’s mother, spoke with the president and teared up while recounting the pain she was feeling.
“She died and everything came out, everything that was going on the military bases. I want you to help me get to the truth. I know you have children, you know what it is like to love a child and for me to touch your heart and have you see my suffering” Gloria said in spanish.
Khawan then filled the president in on all the details relating to specialist Guillen’s death. He seemed unaware of many parts of the story that drew national television coverage.
Trump was asked about the Guillen case by Telemundo on July 10 and he said he gave specific orders so that he would know everything about it.
The president told the family that the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice are currently in Texas to conduct an investigation.
When Trump heard that the family had not been able to have a funeral for Vanessa because they do not have her remains as the investigation is ongoing, he offered to help.
He also said that he was willing to cover the cost of the event from his own wealth as he mentioned he could not do it through the government.
When asked if sexual assault is a “culture” in the military the president deffered the question to Vanessa’s sister Lupe.
“It needs to change and the change is now. There needs to be transparency and for the truth to come out [about] what is happening on Fort Hood,” Lupe said.