The Department of Defense may get involved in the investigation of the Spc. Vanessa Guillen case.
Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston, joined leaders of the League of United Latin American Citizens as they met with the Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy on Friday to discuss the case of the Fort Hood soldier who was found dead in East Bell County last week after she was reported missing since April 22.
“Two outcomes which I think are in the right direction,” the representative said at a press conference outside of the U.S. Capitol.
“First, (the) Secretary of the Army will recommend to the Department of Defense that the inspector general do a full independent review of the entire Vanessa Guillen case,” she said. “And, secondly, in the meantime, they will be building an external panel to review everything specific to Fort Hood and specific to the charges of sexual harassment.”
Domingo Garcia, president of LULAC, said the meeting was focused on the Guillen case, but not entirely. He said they brought up their concerns about how the Army handled the disappearance of Pvt. Gregory Wedel-Morales, a Fort Hood soldier who went missing last August and was found dead June 19 in Killeen.
“We believe these cases have exposed a systematic problem within the Army and other branches of the military,” he said.
Thousands of women have spoken out on social media using the hashtag #IAmVanessaGuillen, sharing their stories of abuse and harassment.
“That was the message we carried today to the Secretary of the Army and other officials,” Domingo Garcia said. “We believe that message has been heard.”
Domingo Garcia said the independent panel will investigate charges of sexual abuse and harassment in the Army. He said McCarthy asked LULAC to recommend Hispanic men and women to serve on the panel.
“We hope that this commission will remedy the systematic sexual harassment and abuse of women in the military,” Domingo Garcia said.
In the Guillen case, one suspect in the criminal investigation, Spc. Aaron David Robinson, took his own life July 1, and another civilian suspect, Cecily Aguilar, is in custody awaiting federal charges.
Aguilar told investigators that Robinson on April 22 struck a “female soldier in the head with a hammer multiple times at his arms room, killing her on Fort Hood.”
Guillen’s family has said she repeatedly complained to them of sexual harassment, and Fort Hood officials have continually said they have found no credible evidence to support those claims.