fort hood
© EFE/Alicia L. Perez
People visiting and paying homage to a mural with the image of Vanessa Guillen in a neighborhood in the south of Houston, Texas, USA. July 04, 2020.
The family of Houston native Vanessa Guillen, who was sexually assaulted and murdered at Fort Hood in April, seeks to introduce the #IAmVanessaGuillen bill allowing active-duty service members to file sexual harassment or assault claims to third party agencies instead of their military chain of command.

On Tuesday, the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel, along with the House Oversight Committee on National Security, announced a joint investigation into not only the military chain of command at Fort Hood over their handling of sexual harassment and assault but also the 28 deaths associated with the Texas military base in recent months.

Military families and activists, including Vanessa Guillen's, are calling for the base to be temporarily shut down until the investigation is complete, claiming that the demotion and transfer of base commander Maj. Gen. Scott Efflandt wasn't good enough.

Although numerous internal probes led by the Army itself into the command climate and culture at Fort Hood, Guillen's family says it does not trust the Army to investigate its leaders, saying they demand Efflandt be dishonorably discharged, fired, and criminally charged for his failure to protect Guillen and other soldiers killed on the base so far this year, many of whose formal complaints of sexual assault and harassment were belittled, ignored or denied.

"We still don't know the truth. We haven't gotten answers, and yet the Army is trying to cover this up. Cover up after cover up...she didn't report. She stayed quiet. Why? Because the Army does not care. She was afraid of retaliation," Guillen's sister Lupe told a crowd of protestors outside the Texas State Capitol in Austin on September 7.

Claiming organized criminal activity involving top military brass runs rampant throughout the base. It goes deeper than the recent string of murders and disappearances; Guillen's family, along with former soldiers-turned-activists, are calling for the Congressional investigation to look deeply into the entire military's structural racism and rape culture, evidenced through convictions of Fort Hood officers pimping out young female soldiers to senior officials, running child prostitution rings and reporting fatal sexual assaults as suicides. Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA), leading the Congressional investigation, said, "Congress must respond to this watershed moment to address the cultural rot that has festered in our armed services for far too long...we owe it to all service members who have suffered the indignity of sexual harassment or assault and the betrayal of military leadership failing to address those offenses."