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‘We must be a voice for the voiceless’: Family shares message as Vanessa Guillen Act introduced to Congress

The Vanessa Guillen Act would make sexual harassment a crime in the military.

Members of Congress flanked by the family of Vanessa Guillen said the clock has run out on the Department of Defense.

"Vanessa’s grisly murder awakened Congress,” said Congresswoman Jackie Speier, California. 

Congress members said for years, military leaders have failed to deal with sexual harassment and assault in their ranks.

"Justice is needed for Vanessa and the soldiers facing an epidemic of sexual harassment and assault in our armed forces too often in the shadows,” said Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, California.

The "I am Vanessa Guillen Act" is being championed by Speier. The murder of Guillen in April 2020 by another Fort Hood solider propelled her to act.

RELATED: Timeline | One year later, Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillen's death bringing change to highest levels of military

"We must act to ensure that no more soldiers meet the fate of Vanessa Guillen,” said Speier.  

Investigations have revealed the army specialist was also sexually harassed by a sergeant in the months before her death but ignored by her chain of command. 

The bill would take sexual harassment prosecution decisions out the chain of command and given to prosecutors instead. It also makes sexual harassment a punishable crime in the military.

"This act will bring the help that my sister needed and the voice that my sister needed, because we must be a voice for the voiceless,” said Lupe Guillen, sister. 

Guillen’s sisters said it’s a bittersweet victory knowing that Vanessa will help bring necessary change in the military’s culture but also knowing she paid the price for that change.

"We are here to ensure her name won’t be forgotten and this change needs to happen, and it needs to happen in now,” said Mayra Guillen.