Three state representatives came to Killeen on Friday to show their support for Spc. Vanessa Guillen and her family during the weekly rally near the intersection of West Rancier Avenue and North Fort Hood Street, near Fort Hood’s east gate.
State Reps. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin, César Blanco, D-El Paso, and Victoria Neave, D-Dallas, were all present for the rally.
“Number one, we’re here to stand in solidarity with the family of Vanessa Guillen,” Blanco said. “What occurred here on this post is horrible.”
Blanco said he will be refiling bills he has authored to protect victims and witnesses of military sexual assault in the Texas military.
“We need change,” Blanco said. “We need to make sure that the victims of assault and harassment have the ability to report to a third party outside the chain of command, and that third party has teeth to enforce.”
Blanco has previously introduced similar legislation in the 85th Texas Legislative Session, but they did not go through.
The new legislation, which he plans to introduce in January will be named after Guillen, Blanco said.
Rodriguez said the time is right for this legislation.
“There are allegations of sexual assault, and I think we need to see what the military’s processes are and how they handle those kind of situations,” he said. “And I just think it’s time that we just shine a light on this and make sure that something like this doesn’t happen again.”
Rodriguez said passing the bill in January will involve gathering support from Republican representatives.
“A lot of the work that gets done in the legislature is done outside of the legislature; it’s done before session starts,” he said. “So I think now is the right time. There’s a lot of other issues, obviously, the state is facing, but this is an important one.”
Neave said coming to Killeen was about supporting the family.
“We’re here to uplift her story and to make sure that we honor our soldiers who sacrifice for us,” she said.
Neave said that Guillen is relatable to many people.
“We see her as like a sister, a friend,” Neave said. “She could have been any of our family members.”
Guillen went missing on April 22 and her remains were found near the Leon River in late June.
The family of Guillen and its attorney, Natalie Khawam, have been pushing for a congressional investigation into the possible sexual harassment and death of the soldier. They are scheduled to meet with President Donald Trump on Wednesday and host a march on Thursday through Washington, D.C.