I Am Vanessa Guillén Act brings 'historic' military reform as calls for justice persist

As a new law provides new protections to victims of sexual violence, the family of slain Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillen await justice for her death.

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1/21/2022 6:17:00 AM

'Our soldiers are protected with freedoms, rights and protections they never had before,' Natalie Khawam, an attorney for the Guillén family, says. 'We lost Vanessa, but we gained rights for our military and our service members.'

As a new law provides new protections to victims of sexual violence, the family of slain Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillen await justice for her death.

01:19"Our soldiers are protected with freedoms, rights and protections they never had before," Natalie Khawam, an attorney for the Guillén family, said at the news conference."We lost Vanessa, but we gained rights for our military and our service members."

Thenew lawexcludes commanders from being involved in military sexual harassment or sexual assault investigations by directing them to request independent investigations within 72 hours of receiving formal complaints from members of the armed forces. The commanders must also forward the complaints to their next superior officers in the chain of command who are authorized to convene general courts-martial.

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April 30, 2021 01:19 "Our soldiers are protected with freedoms, rights and protections they never had before," Natalie Khawam, an attorney for the Guillén family, said at the news conference."We lost Vanessa, but we gained rights for our military and our service members." The new law excludes commanders from being involved in military sexual harassment or sexual assault investigations by directing them to request independent investigations within 72 hours of receiving formal complaints from members of the armed forces. The commanders must also forward the complaints to their next superior officers in the chain of command who are authorized to convene general courts-martial. To enforce further oversight, the law also creates a mechanism to track allegations of retaliation by victims of sexual misconduct and moves prosecutorial decisions in cases involving retaliation to special prosecutors. “This is a historic moment,” said the singer Gloria Estefan, who nearly two years ago. “Vanessa is changing the world.” Rep. Sylvia García, D-Texas, who has been