Yesterday, the family of Vanessa Guillén held an emotional press conference in Washington D.C. Natalie Khawam, the family lawyer, opened by asking for a moment of silence. Adding, “At this hour, one year ago, Vanessa Guillén was being shoved in a tuff box, let that sink in.”
Afterwards, the family detailed their struggles, and criticized official’s lack of effort. Khawam stated that they attempted to meet with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and the White House. However, that both were unavailable to meet. She went on to criticize President Biden for not following through on things he said during the campaign trail.
“Stop doing commercials saying you love our troops, just to get elected, then go silent. Put your money where your mouth is,” Khawam admonished. Moreover, saying she planned to show the public who has supported the cause, and who has not.
Khawam also remarked, “Young men and women … they’re not afraid to take a bullet for our country but they’re afraid to report sexual harassment.”
Mayra Guillén, sister of Vanessa Guillén, went on to criticize the former Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy. Saying that he “couldn’t handle it, he didn’t care enough.”
She also stated how this is not a republican issue or a democrat issue. That it is ultimately a human issue. Furthermore, echoing that true justice for Vanessa is passing legislation to protect others.
I Vanessa Guillén Act
The Bill was first introduced last year by Jackie Speier, the representative for California’s 14th congressional district. It outlines a plan to add a third party to allow troops to file reports of sexual harassment, and assault, outside of their chain of command. Also ensuring there is no backlash for those reporting.
Additionally, it opens the door for families to seek compensation in instances where the military failed. That is not currently the case. For example, if a city agency is found negatable, those impacted can sue the city. Although, that is not the case with the military. This would be a huge shift in policy. It would certainly coincide with the momentum against the Feres Doctrine. This barring troops for suing military doctors for malpractice. Despite it not being repealed, there are now provisions to sidestep the Feres Doctrine, and apply for compensation.
In the same vein, many believe families like Guillén’s should be able to hold the Army accountable. The family urges everyone to contact their representatives and ask if they support the I Vanessa Guillén Act. Stating that “We need to speak for Venessa, because she cannot speak for herself.”