¿Donde esta Vanessa?

By Cynthia Martinez

The army creed 

I am a warrior and a member of a team.

I serve the people of the united states and live the

Army values 

I will always place the mission first

I will never accept defeat

I will never quit

I will never leave a fallen comrade

I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough,

Trained and proficient in my warrior and drills,

I always maintain my arms, my equipment and myself.

I am an expert and I am a professional.

I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy the

Enemies of the United States of America in close combat.

I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life.

I am an American Soldier.

Vanessa gullien was a 22-year-old soldier living at the Fort Hood base in Texas. She was reported missing by her mom via Facebook and was later confirmed by Fort Hood.

Many Riverside ROTC members were worried she would never be found.

“I don’t think they were gonna find her, in a base like the military they hide a bunch of stuff,” said sophomore Bertha Sanchez.

“I didn’t know the person,” said Riverside ROTC Teacher Major Roger Bailey. “I can’t make an informative decision if I don’t know her. I would hope that the military officials at Fort Hood would have.”

“I thought she went away for awhile and was gonna come back the same day, but they kept saying she was still missing so I lost hope,” said sophomore Ruben Vargas.

Three months go by and there is no sign of Vanessa but there have been a few arrests of people who probably had something to do with her disappearance but there’s no evidence to prove that they were the causes, but her mother has hope that she’s alive and well. 

After Vanessa’s story was shared many other women have spoken up about their sexual harassment experience in the military. There was a song written by Yariel Roaro about her called “Exigimos Igualdad”, which translates to “We demand equality.” 

The song starts by asking “¿donde esta Vanessa?”- “Where is Vanessa?” – 

“Es la pregunta que se le hizo al gobierno y no nos dan respuestas” – the question we asked the government and we haven’t received an answer. “¿Será porque nos están escondiendo algo?” – Is it because they are hiding something from us. “¿O no les interesa?” – or they just don’t care. 

Many marched and protested in her honor. People hoped that Fort Hood officials would find her alive. Artists painted murals off Gullien in uniform with the Mexican and American flags in the background. People laid candles and flowers on the murals. 

Then on June 30 remains were found near the Leon River in Bell county, Texas. 3 days later Fort Hood confirmed that those human remains were Gullien. As so many spent three months hoping Vanessa was still alive, she was in fact dead all along. 

It turns out that on April 22, 2020, she confronted her Sargent, Specialist Aaron David Robinson about sexually harassing her. She planned to report it the next day, but her Sargent  hit her with a hammer repeatedly, killing and hid her body in a large box, which he was seen carrying out of the weapons room where he killed Vanessa. 

Robinson didn’t act alone. His girlfriend, Cecily Anne Aguilar, planned to help dismember and burn Gullien’s body, but before they could the police found her remains. Robinson killed himself before they could confront him. Aguilar was convicted on conspiracy to tamper with evidence. If convicted she will be facing a maximum sentence of 20 years. 

The family of Vanessa Gullien was torn apart when they heard that their daughter/sister remains were found. In an interview with ABC News Gloria Guillen, Vanessa’s sister called Fort Hood leaders “clowns in a circus” and said they lied to her. She also spoke about their sister’s remains being found. 

“She was taken from me in the most horrible way, yet they take it as if it was a joke,” said Lupe Guillen. “My sister is no joke. My sister is a human being just like, her, all of us.”

This isn’t the first time Fort Hood had to deal with either missing soldiers or murdered. Besides Guillen, Fort Hood has had 29 soldiers die this year from murder, suicide, and homicide. So far five seargents and and two staff seargents have said Fort Hood Has a toxic leadership culture that tolerates drug use, sexual harassment, and misconduct on base, and in some instances, has allowed service members accused of sexual assault to remain within their ranks. 

“Knowing that this could happen to anyone, knowing that there’s more victims out there, would you let your child, your son or daughter, sign a contract with the Army knowing that their life is at risk?” said Lupe Guillen. “My sister deserves to be protected. Your child deserves to be protected. Don’t let them recruit you until we get justice– until Vanessa gets justice.”  

Guillen’s death hit the Hispanic community hard, not just in Guillen’s hometown but also over the United States. Riverside’s cadets worry it will impact the number of Latinos enlisting for the armed forces.

“I think it will drop for a little bit, because some are gonna stay and make justice about it and others are gonna say ‘nah’ and get out,” said Sanchez. 

“I think it’s gonna drop really bad,” said Vargas. “There’s a lot of racism that goes around the military and they are gonna do whatever it takes to not let us succeed.” 

“I certainly hope not,” said Bailey. “I can’t speak since I’m not Latino, I can only imagine. If this was going on I would be hesitant to join.”

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