Vanessa Guillén, 1999-2020. Photo: U.S. Army

SPC Vanessa Guillén’s disappearance and horrific murder earlier this year shined a light on the systemic issue of sexual harassment and sexual assault within our military.

Her name made headlines across the country, #IAmVanessaGuillén was trending on social media, and her family vowed to bring change to the system in her memory. What happened to Vanessa inspired others to come forward and share their experiences of sexual harassment and assault while serving in the U.S. military.

When I heard Vanessa’s tragic story, my heart broke. As a father of six, I cannot imagine losing any of my children, especially in the heinous way Vanessa was taken from her family.

We can’t stand by and let what happened to Vanessa happen again. We must strengthen the military’s ability to protect its most important resource – the men and women who willingly sign-up to protect all Americans.

That’s why I introduced the I Am Vanessa Guillén Act last week week. The I Am Vanessa Guillén Act [H.R.8270] will fundamentally reform reporting and investigating of sexual harassment and assault in the military and transform prosecution of sexual harassment and assault by empowering an independent prosecutor, within each military service, to bring charges.

It will also encourage survivors to come forward to report sexual assaults and sexual harassment so perpetrators will be held accountable and survivors will get the justice they deserve.

The issue of sexual assault and sexual harassment in the military isn’t a Democrat or Republican issue – it’s an American issue. This is about protecting our men and women in uniform. They fight for us and now we must fight for them.

This bill will ensure Vanessa will not have died in vain. As a soldier she proudly served her country and, in the wake of her death, she will save countless lives through this vital change to our military.

I will keep fighting so no family has to go through what the Guillén family has gone through.

Markwayne Mullin, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, was first elected to serve the people of Oklahoma’s Second Congressional District in November 2012. He is currently serving his fourth term in office. Mullin and his wife Christie have six children. The Mullin family currently resides in Westville, Oklahoma, on the same family farm where Markwayne was raised.

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