Texas Legislature approves ‘Vanessa Guillen Day’ unanimously.

The Texas State Senate made history on May 17, voting unanimously to approve House Bill 2248, establishing September 30 as “Vanessa Guillen Day” in the State of Texas. Sponsored by Senator Carol Alvarado and authored by State Representative Josey Garcia, the bill will commemorate the birthday of U.S. Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen, who was the victim of a heinous crime perpetrated by a fellow soldier while stationed at Fort Hood in 2020.

“This bill honors the life and service of Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen whose life was stolen by a fellow soldier at her duty station of Ft. Hood, Texas,” said Garcia. “HB 2248 will help break the silence and end the stigma on Military Sexual Trauma. This bill is for Vanessa, her family and the over 19,000 female veterans who call Texas home.”

Guillen’s untimely death shook the country, prompting lawmakers to take action to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future. Senator Alvarado expressed her sentiments, “Specialist Vanessa Guillen was robbed of the opportunity to live a long and fruitful life. Establishing her birthday as a statewide day of remembrance will ensure that we never forget her memory and we continue the fight to prevent any service member from enduring what Vanessa did.”

Mayra Guillen, Vanessa’s sister, was thrilled about the news and shared the Legislature’s news release on Twitter. In her statement, she said, “Vanessa’s life and legacy are highlighted by the passage of this bill which provides the continuance of her memory and the legacy she leaves behind to keep our military safe. Sexual misconduct is not incident to service.”

Houston Independent School District, which Guillen attended, had established the day of remembrance earlier. In 2021, the Vanessa Guillen Act was enacted to protect military members who report sexual harassment and assault without fear of retaliation, lack of confidentiality, or concern that nothing would be done.

Once HB 2248 is signed in the House of Representatives and Senate, it will head to the governor’s desk for final approval. The passage of this bill serves as a vital step towards addressing the issues of sexual harassment and assault, emphasizing the significance of honoring and remembering those who have suffered such injustices.

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