After Guillen Case, San Antonio Nonprofits to Rally for Changes in Military Sexual Assault Procedures


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San Antonio-area nonprofits Circle of Arms and the Pink Berets will take part in a national rally Saturday, August 1, honoring survivors of military sexual trauma, or MST.

The groups, which advocate for mental health awareness, are calling for major changes in the way the armed forces handle MST cases. The rally is being held roughly a month after Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillen was found dead after alleging she'd been sexually harassed by a superior.

Circle of Arms and the Pink Berets are calling on the military to create a database of convicted sexual predators in its ranks and for Congress to pass the Military Justice Improvement Act, which has languished for seven years. The groups also want the government to integrate military entrance data with the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System.

“Through a collaborative effort, we are actively pursuing justice that will inevitably lead to legislative changes in terms of Military Sexual Trauma,” Navy veteran Stephanie Gattas, CEO of the Pink Berets, told the Current. “As you are witnessing, across the nation, people continue to mourn the death of Vanessa Guillen and fight for justice."

The rally will take place Hemisfair Park at 11 a.m. Organizers are providing a Zoom link for those who prefer to remain at home while showing their support.

“[As] veterans and survivors of MST, [we] can no longer entrust the government to make the changes needed without amplifying our voices in solidarity,” Circle of Arms founder and US Air Force veteran Larissa Martinez said.

“We need our elected officials and community support for this cause to protect our soldiers."

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