Vanessa Guillén: US Military Under Attack, Women Recall Sexual Ordeal in Armed Forces

The Defense Department reports a 3 percent increase in sexual assault cases in 2019, with as many as 6,236 cases recorded.

As grim details of the murder of Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillén emerge, the US Military has come under attack. Servicewomen and female veterans are sharing their sexual harassment ordeals through the viral #IAmVanessa and #MeToo campaigns on social media platforms.

Vanessa Guillen
Vanessa Guillen Twitter

Guillén, whose dismembered remains were found in a shallow grave near the Leon River in rural Bell County, had told her family of being sexually harassed by Spc Aaron David Robinson, just before she went missing. When authorities approached Robison for the investigation into Guillén's disappearance, he fled from the spot and committed suicide by pulling a gun trigger.

#IamVanessa Brings Out Tales of Harassment in US Military

While officials ruled out the sexual harassment angle in Guillén's death, the US Military was surrounded with the #MeToo movement with many women sharing their tales of sexual misconduct while being in service.

Speaking to The Washington Post, Martina Chesonis, an officer in the Air Force Reserve, termed Guillén's death as shocking and heartbreaking, but not surprising. Referring to the incidents of sexual harassment, Chesonis said: "You know if it's not you, it's one of your peers who has experienced it. Her murder is rare, but the experiences of sexual harassment and being afraid of reprisal — that's not unique."

Sharing her experience, Katie Cook, an officer in the Marine Corps Reserve, revealed that she was a witness in a rape allegation. In a lengthy post Cook said that while male students belittled the victim, she was pressured to retract her statements in the case.

In a post made on Facebook, Kayla Whitacre, a Marine Corps veteran, revealed about a male colleague attempting to enter her barracks room. "I hurried behind my door, dug my feet in and pushed as hard as I could. We struggled like that for what felt like forever. I finally shoved it closed. He stood outside my window and stared at me until I closed the curtain," she recounted.

Lawmakers Demand an Independent Investigation Into Guillén's Case

Earlier this week, a letter from Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-Tex.) asked the Pentagon's inspector general to launch an independent investigation into Guillén's disappearance and death. 90 lawmakers had signed the letter. Also, more than 2,500 servicewomen and veterans have also signed a letter demanding an investigation, reported the outlet.

A report submitted by the Defense Department revealed that 6,236 sexual assaults were recorded in the military in 2019. It showed a 3 percent increases as compared to the ones lodged in 2018.

Stating that Guillén's death has caused a significant impact on Latino veterans, Pam Campos-Palma, who served as an Air Force intelligence analyst, said: "There is a deep burden among minority women in the military, and a pain of loving your country and serving in uniform for a military which doesn't love you back."