Mullin Co-Leads Bill to Remove Sexual Harassment from the Military Chain of Command on Anniversary of SPC Vanessa Guillén’s Murder
Washington, April 22, 2022
Today, Congressman Markwayne Mullin (OK-02) was joined by Reps. Jackie Speier (CA-14), Veronica Escobar (TX-16), Troy Balderson (OH-12), Sylvia Garcia (TX-29), Tony Gonzales (TX-23), and Anthony Brown (MD-04) in leading a group of 39 bipartisan colleagues in introducing the Sexual Harassment Independent Investigations and Prosecutions (SHIIP) Act to remove sexual harassment from the military chain of command. Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) is introducing companion legislation today as well, which marks the two-year anniversary of the murder of Army SPC Vanessa Guillén.
This legislation will remove sexual harassment from the military chain of command to a new special trial counsel created by the National Defense Authorization Act of (NDAA) of Fiscal Year 2022, as well as require that new, independent sexual harassment investigators created by the FY22 NDAA are outside the chain of command of the victim and are trained in investigating sexual harassment.
The SHIIP Act is supported by the Guillén family.
“The FY22 NDAA was a step in the right direction, but the SHIIP Act carries this work over the finish line,” Mullin said. “We must protect the military’s most importance resource, which is the people who willingly sign-up to protect all Americans and our freedoms. I am grateful for the strength and perseverance that SPC Vanessa Guillén’s family has shown as we work to honor her legacy and protect future women in the military just like her.”
“Though the pain from SPC Vanessa Guillén’s murder still reverberates among her family, friends and fellow soldiers, it also served as a bulwark that helped Congress overhaul a predatory system in last year’s National Defense Authorization Act by including my provisions to remove cases of sexual assault, murder, kidnapping, and other serious crimes from the chain of command. Also included was my provision making sexual harassment a standalone offense in the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Shockingly, however, that offense was not included in the jurisdiction of the independent military prosecutors. Our bill fixes that massive oversight,” Speier said. “SPC Guillén was sexually harassed by a superior prior to her disappearance and dismemberment. No action was taken on her complaint. Many other victims of sexual assault and violent crimes in the military have shared with me how they also suffered from sexual harassment. As long as sexual harassment courts-martial continue to be handled through the military chain of command, victim’s voices will be stifled and overwhelmed by a system stacked against them at every turn.”
“I am proud of the gains Congress has made to ensure our servicemembers are safe at home, but the work mustn’t stop. The SHIIP Act will further strengthen servicemembers’ protection and remedy flaws that endanger veteran and military survivors,” Escobar said. “As her memory remains etched on our hearts, we must continue to seek justice for SPC Vanessa Guillén by rooting out sexual assault and harassment in our military and ensuring what happened to Vanessa never happens again.”
“These common sense safeguards ensure a fair investigatory process – outside the chain of command – to hold offenders accountable and maintain appropriate confidentiality,” Balderson said. “Unit cohesion and morale are critical components to force readiness. Removing these processes from the chain of command allows our Armed Forces to focus on their core missions while ensuring justice for victims, without fear of retribution.”
“My constituent, SPC Vanessa Guillén, was taken from her family and our community too soon. Her legacy and sacrifice sparked a landmark movement that removed cases of sexual assault and other serious crimes from the military’s chain of command. Her impact ensures countless veterans and military survivors do not have to live in fear. The SHIIP Act will further strengthen protections for these individuals. This remarkable step forward will provide our service members additional protections they rightfully deserve," Garcia said.
“Sexual assault and harassment have no place in our country, specifically in the ranks of our men and women in uniform,” Gonzales said. “The SHIIP Act creates commonsense protections and processes to ensure that instances of sexual assault and other serious crimes are removed from the military’s chain of command. I was horrified by the crimes against fellow Texan and service member SPC Vanessa Guillen and I hope this legislation honors her memory and legacy as a monumental step forward in ending sexual assault and harassment in our nation’s military.”
“We have a responsibility to look after the wellbeing of our service members. While we’ve taken important steps to ensure they receive the justice and support they deserve, more must be done,” Brown said. “Sexual harassment in the ranks is unacceptable and we need to treat it seriously to ensure abusers aren’t allowed to slip the cracks and continue a pattern of unacceptable behavior that upends lives and damages confidence in the system. This legislation is critical to a military justice system that respects the rights of survivors.”
"Today marks the two year anniversary of SPC Vanessa Guillen's horrible death. Vanessa proudly served our country yet she was denied justice,” Mayra Guillén, sister of SPC Vanessa Guillén said. “The SHIIP Act is vital to protecting soldiers and would have saved Vanessa’s life. The passage of the SHIIP Act will be a form of justice and honor for my sister Vanessa Guillen.”
The SHIIP Act is also supported by the following organizations: Protect Our Defenders, Service Women's Action Network, Modern Military Association of America, Never Alone Advocacy, and Red, White and Bruised.
For the full text of the bill click here.
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