April 22, 2023 marks three years since death of Army Spc. Vanessa Guillén
FORT HOOD, Texas - Today marks exactly three years since Army Spc. Vanessa Guillén was brutally murdered at Fort Hood.
On April 22, 2020, 20-year-old Guillén disappeared from Fort Hood, and after a more than two month search, her remains were found near the Leon River in Bell County.
Investigators say fellow soldier Aaron Robinson brutally murdered Guillén with a hammer and his girlfriend Cecily Anne Aguilar helped him bury her remains. She has since pled guilty, but Robinson took his own life before he could be arrested.
As activists pushed for answers – like why it took the Army so long to investigate – it was revealed that Guillén had shared with family and friends prior to her death that she was being sexually harassed, but she never reported it to her superiors out of fear of retaliation.
Guillén’s story prompted hundreds of women to share their own experiences with sexual misconduct in the military on social media, using the hashtag #iamvanessaguillen.
That moment triggered a series of changes, including an investigation that revealed a "permissive environment for sexual assault and sexual harassment at Fort Hood." Congress also passed the I am Vanessa Guillén Act in late 2021, which requires an independent prosecutor to investigate sexual assault and harassment cases against in the military.
Last summer, Guillén’s family announced they were suing the Army for $35 million in damages on the basis of sexual harassment, abuse, assault, rape, sodomy and wrongful death.
- New law named for Vanessa Guillén will revamp military investigations into sexual assault
- Bill addressing deaths of Fort Hood soldiers signed into law
- Fort Hood reveals specs of gate named in honor of Vanessa Guillen
- "Justice for Vanessa Guillen" mural in southeast Austin honors U.S. Army specialist
- Community gathers in South Austin to honor Vanessa Guillen
- Artists create 20 murals around Houston area to honor Spc. Vanessa Guillen
These days, the I am Vanessa Guillén foundation gives a voice to survivors of sexual abuse in the military. Murals across Austin and her native Houston keep Guillén's legacy alive, and streaming giant Netflix is now streaming a documentary about her life. The city of Houston has also dedicated the Vanessa Guillén Memorial Highway in South Houston in her honor.
Texas House lawmakers have also passed HB 2248, establishing September 30th, Vanessa's birthday, as "Vanessa Guillén Day."
However, last month's death of Fort Hood Pvt. Ana Basaldua Ruiz, who also complained to her family about sexual harassment, serves as a reminder to Guillén’s sister Mayra that there’s still more work to be done.
Authorities do not suspect foul play in Basaldua Ruiz's death. Basaldua Ruiz's family is starting a GoFundMe page to raise funds to pay for travel expenses and to also do a second autopsy.