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Thursday, September 24, 2020

San Antonio march will honor Vanessa Guillén on what would have been her 21st birthday

Posted By on Thu, Sep 24, 2020 at 4:29 PM

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Boerne-based military-assistance nonprofit the Pink Berets will host a march honoring slain Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillén on what would have been her 21st birthday.

The march will begin at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, September 30 at the Alas de Mexico statue at Hemisfair. It will end at the same location at approximately two hours later.

“I’m feeling hopeful that the country is watching a very pivotal change in addressing military sexual trauma through the Vanessa Guillén Bill,” said Stephanie Gattas, founder and CEO of the The Pink Berets, which helps active duty military personnel and veterans deal with military sexual trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder and continuous traumatic stress.

“It’s important to not just address why or how [Guillen's death] happened but how to prevent it from happening again through extensive advocacy efforts and education.”

Guillén was reported missing this spring from Killeen-area Army installation Fort Hood after telling her mother that she'd been sexually harassed by a superior. Nearly six weeks later, her dismembered remains were found buried along the Leon River.

Last week, Representative Jackie Speier, D-California, visited Fort Hood with other members of Congress to investigate claims of harassment and a spike in deaths of soldiers at the post.

Speier is the driving force behind the bipartisan “I Am Vanessa Guillén Act,” which aims to overhaul how the Department of Defense handles sexual harassment and assault.

"We are leaving a legacy behind for the future generations, and I can’t think of a better way to honor our military past, present, and future than to improve upon the systematic failures," said Gattas, a U.S. Navy veteran. "It’s our moral duty to rectify problems within the very institution that defines our freedom in this country."

The march is a collaborative effort between the Pink Berets, No Mas, Minority Veterans of America, Invisible Combat, Not In My Marine Corps and The Heal Netwerk. All are organizations that offer wellness and support programs for military members.

The program will include musical performances and guest speakers from the participating organizations. Those interested in participating can do so in person, or virtually via Facebook live.

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