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Fort Hood unveils memorial gate named in honor of slain U.S. Army Soldier Vanessa Guillén


Army base Fort Hood Monday unveiled a memorial for slain soldier Vanessa Guillén. - SCREEN CAPTURE / YOUTUBE KPRC 2
  • Screen Capture / YouTube KPRC 2
  • Army base Fort Hood Monday unveiled a memorial for slain soldier Vanessa Guillén.
U.S. Army installation Fort Hood this week unveiled a memorial for slain soldier Vanessa Guillén in the form of a renamed gate and plaque, NBC News reports.

Guillén's family unveiled the gate Monday afternoon in a private event livestreamed via their Facebook page. The ceremony took place days before the one-year anniversary of Guillén being reported missing from the Killeen-area base.

“This is an honor for Vanessa … this is a step in the right direction,” Mayra Guillén, the slain soldier's older sister, said at a news conference after the ceremony. “For me, I try to see things in a positive way. This gate will [remind] all those soldiers who go in day and night that what happened shouldn’t happen ever again.”

The gate leads to the 3rd Cavalry Regiment, "where [Guillén] lived day-to-day, where she served her country honorably," Lt. Gen. Pat White, commanding general of III Corps and Fort Hood, said at the ceremony.

Guillén was last seen at the base on April 22, 2020. Her remains were found along a Central Texas river weeks later. In July of last year, police moved to arrest 20-year-old Spc. Aaron Robinson in connection with her disappearance. However, he shot and killed himself before he could be apprehended.

Guillén family attorney Natalie Khawam has said that before Guillén disappeared she divulged to her family that she was sexually harassed by Robinson but was afraid to report the incident for fear of retaliation. Army investigators said they were unable to confirm those allegations.

Following the discovery of Guillén's remains, the Army appointed one of its most senior commanders to lead an in-depth investigation into her death. That probe was separate from a Fort Hood review that examined the command climate and culture at the installation.

The circumstances surrounding Guillén's death grabbed nationwide headlines and led to calls for the military to reform internal procedures on handling sexual assault allegations within its ranks.

"The unveiling of the Vanessa Guillén gate will serve as a daily reminder that sexual assault is no longer a stigma and accountability will not be absolved," Pink Berets CEO Stephanie Gattas, a Navy veteran, told the Current. "May it also serve as a beacon of hope to remind survivors of [military sexual trauma] to feel empowered and that their voice can make an impact."

The San Antonio-based Pink Berets advocates for mental health awareness among military personnel. The group has called for major changes in the way the armed forces handle sexual assault allegations.

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