Chairs Of Servicewomen & Women Veterans Congressional Caucus Demand Congressional Hearings On Spc. Vanessa Guillen Murder, Comprehensive Review Of Sexual Harassment And Assault In The Armed Forces
July 30, 2020
Washington, DC—Today, Servicewomen & Women Veterans Congressional Caucus Chairwoman Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA) and Vice Chairs Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ), Elaine Luria (D-VA) and Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) requested that the House and Senate Armed Services Committees hold hearings into the murder of Spc. Vanessa Guillen, support legislative proposals to address sexual assault and misconduct and work to implement policies that root out the culture of sexual harassment and assault in the Armed Forces. The four Representatives are U.S. military veterans and launched the Servicewomen and Women Veterans Caucus last year to ensure Congress does more to support both women currently serving and women veterans.
“Spc. Vanessa Guillen and her family deserve a comprehensive congressional response to her murder and the conditions that enabled her abuser. It is far past time for Congress to fulfill its responsibility to our men and women in uniform and fix this broken system,” the Members wrote.
The Members also highlighted two amendments in the National Defense Authorization Act from Representatives Jackie Speier and Tulsi Gabbard that passed the House last week which address the culture of sexual harassment and assault in the Armed Forces.
Background: Since her first term in Congress, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has been outspoken in her support for victims of military sexual assault as well as led the fight for the Military Justice Improvement Act to secure justice, address the trauma they face, and ensure that the Department of Veterans Affairs is equipped to address their needs.
Rep. Gabbard successfully included an amendment in the FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act passed by the House last week. The amendment requires a report related to sexual assault by the Department of Defense to Congress providing an accounting and demographics of individuals receiving “bad paper” (i.e. dishonorable, bad conduct, or other than honorable) discharge or dismissal from the Armed Forces in which there is evidence that the individual discharged suffered symptoms of sexual trauma or filed a complaint with the chain of command regarding sexual assault and related discrimination, fraud, waste, or abuse. The amendment would require the DOD report to cover the last 20 years.
On July 1, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard joined the family of slain Spc. Vanessa Guillen at a press conference at the U.S. Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C. demanding answers regarding her disappearance and the reported sexual harassment she faced while serving. Spc. Guillen was last seen on April 22 near the squadron headquarters. Her car keys, identification card, and wallet were all found at Fort Hood. Her remains were positively identified just days after the press conference, found near the Leon River, just east of where she went missing in April.
In May 2019, Rep. Gabbard cosponsored H.R.2388, Harmony’s Law, a bill that would help prevent those convicted and found guilty of rape in the military from being freed from jail on a misconstrued technicality due to the U.S. v. Mangahas ruling. It would authorize the House Office of General Counsel to represent the interests of Congress in any cases related to the Mangahas decision, expressing the intent of Congress that the passage of time should not bar the prosecution of rape or sexual assault under the Uniformed Code of Military Justice, and eliminating statutes of limitations for sexual offenses in the military against children.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces ruled in U.S. v. Mangahas that the statute of limitations for sexual assaults that occurred before 2006 is five years. In doing so, the Court incorrectly overruled the military’s standard in place from 1986 to 2006 that rape could “be tried and punished at any time without limitation” and misinterpreted the Congressional intent of the 2006 NDAA by failing to apply it to cases that occurred prior to 2006.
About Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is serving her fourth term in the United States House representing Hawai‘i’s Second District, and serves on the House Armed Services and Financial Services Committees. She previously served on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Homeland Security Committee. She was elected to the Honolulu City Council in 2010, and prior to that at age 21, was elected to the Hawaiʻi State Legislature in 2002, becoming the youngest person ever elected in the state. Tulsi Gabbard has served in the Hawaiʻi Army National Guard for over 17 years, is a veteran of two Middle East deployments, and continues to serve as a Major. Learn more about Rep. Tulsi Gabbard...
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