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San Antonio Group Hosting Talk on Military Sexual Trauma as Search for Missing GI Vanessa Guillen Continues

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San Antonio nonprofit Circle of Arms will hold a Zoom discussion Wednesday called “Predators in Boots” to make prospective U.S. soldiers aware of the realities of sexual assault within the military.

The discussion occurs as authorities search for 20-year-old Private First Class Vanessa Guillen, who was last seen in April on Fort Hood. Guillen’s family says that prior to her disappearance she told them that she'd been sexually harassed by one of her sergeants at the base.

“This discussion [is] very dear to me because I’m a survivor of military sexual trauma,” Circle of Arms founder Larissa Martinez said. “I feel we need to bring more awareness to young adults, especially juniors and seniors in high school.”

Circle of Arms advocates for mental health awareness through education, focusing on a wide demographic that includes women, veterans, senior citizens and children.

Martinez said honest discussion about the realities of sexual assault is vital in Military City, USA. She hopes the talk will reach parents whose teens are considering the armed services as their next life step.

"I do feel we need to speak out more about the reality of sexual assault in the military," Martinez said. "Especially with the current Vanessa Guillen situation."

Fort Hood, located halfway between Austin and Waco, has been in national headlines as the search for Guillen intensifies. Hollywood actress Salma Hayek recently joined the effort, vowing to post a photo of Guillen every day until she is found.

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