“How can this happen on a military base? How can this happen while she was on duty?,” the callout of Vanessa Guillén’s youngest sister Lupe Guillén’s was heard through television coverage nationwide.
I remember the daily news reports about the morbid situation and everything that happened at an Army base – a place that you assume is protected by the country.
For those who don’t know about the case, Netflix released a documentary titled “I Am Vanessa Guillen,” which follows what the family went through to make sure her death wasn’t in vain.
As a call of action, Guillén’s family continued to be involved until justice was served. Though they say they have more work to do, positive changes have happened since. These changes include the “I am Vanessa Guillén Act of 2020.” This allows a military member to “confidentially allege a complaint of sexual harassment to an individual outside the immediate chain of command of that member.” Consequently, President Joe Biden also signed an executive order changing how sexual harassment and assault cases in the military get prosecuted.
What’s going on now? The Guillén family is seeking $35 million in damages from the U.S. Department of Defense for personal injury and wrongful death. Additionally, the family’s still waiting on the trial date for Cecily Aguilar, who allegedly helped murder Guillén.
What else did we learn from the ‘I Am Vanessa Guillen’ documentary? Here are three takeaways from the documentary that we found impressive.
Mothers have a sixth sense
At the beginning of the documentary, Guillén’s mother had a bad feeling about the Fort Hood base. She went as far as hoping for her daughter to pick another career of choice, though she failed to convince her. It’s interesting how sometimes mothers have a sixth sense and have premonitions about circumstances before even knowing about them.
Social media’s a useful tool
Social media pressure is useful – and was a positive key in this case. The #IAmVanessaGuillen became a social media movement where other victims of sexual harassment resonated with Guillén’s story. Not only that, but it also served as further support to demand answers from military officials. Eventually, there were rallies, protests, murals, and more that derived from this movement. These efforts served as reminders of why the case needed to be dealt with ASAP.
Family’s love goes far beyond death
Lastly, the Guillén family figured things out for themselves – which is unfortunate. They didn’t get direct answers from officials, in the beginning, so they took matters into their own hands. Vanessa’s sisters, Mayra and Lupe Guillén, were a major part of these protests and social media efforts. Without them, it’s probable that they wouldn’t have gotten closure or help with finding Vanessa’s body. Mayra even contacted a military lawyer, Natalie Khawam, which is a testament to how resilient and powerful family members’ love can be. Without Lupe getting in contact with the military lawyer, who knows if Vanessa’s bill would’ve made it to the House.
Needless to say, the documentary is a positive outcome to one of the most upsetting stories from Fort Hood. “I Am Vanessa Guillen” is now streaming on Netflix.