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Defense authorization bill includes sweeping changes to military sexual assault investigations

It began with the horrible murder of Texas soldier Vanessa Guillén last year. Today, President Joe Biden signed the NDAA into law. Part of it honors her memory.
Credit: AP
FILE - In this July 30, 2020, file photo, an banner with the image of slain Army Spc. Vanessa Guillen and #IAmVanessaGuillen is displayed before the start of a news conference on the National Mall in Washington. The death of Guillen, who was slain by a fellow soldier at the Texas Army base where they both worked, has been classified as "in the line of duty," according to a report by U.S. Army officials. The results were presented to the Guillén family on Wednesday Oct. 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Monday signed the $770 billion National Defense Authorization Act for the 2022 fiscal year, the White House said. 

Part of that legislation includes sweeping changes to the way the military handles sexual assault and harassment cases, a nod to Texas soldier Vanessa Guillén  who was murdered last year at Fort Hood.

The landmark NDAA bill takes away the military's authority to prosecute sexual assault and harassment cases after accusations of ignoring complaints and sweeping them under the rug.

Guillén's sister, Mayra, said Monday she hopes the changes bring hope to victims.

"We did it," Mayra tweeted.

Before she went missing in April 2020, Vanessa Guillén told her family she was sexually harassed but they said she did not report it for fear of retaliation.

RELATED: Historic 'I Am Vanessa Guillén Act' passed by U.S. Senate as part of National Defense Authorization Act

Guillén's death investigation led to an independent review of how the U.S. Army handled the case and later resulted in 14 leaders at Ford Hood being disciplined.

Investigators said there were multiple leadership failures and a "permissive environment" for sexual assault and harassment at the Central Texas post where she was stationed.

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