We'll dive right in this morning, and I'll start by following up on a story reported here last week in this space.
As I wrote last week, Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen had disappeared from Fort Hood (TX) weeks ago. A body was found recently, but had not yet been identified. It is now, and everyone's worst fears have been confirmed
U.S. Army officials at Fort Hood held a news briefing Monday evening to honor Spc. Vanessa Guillen, after confirming that the search for her since April had ended with the identification of her partial remains discovered near the massive Texas post.
"Sadly, I stand here to report that the search for Spc. Vanessa Guillen has resulted in the very outcome that I had prayed it would not have from there very beginning," Maj. Gen. Scott Efflandt, deputy commander of III Corps and Fort Hood, said during the brief news conference.
Army officials briefed Guillen's family on Sunday that the human remains found in Bell County were identified through DNA analysis to be Guillen's, Efflandt said.
"We are now confronted with the aftermath of one of the most heinous acts I can imagine," Efflandt said.
Guillen, a 20-year-old 3rd Cavalry Regiment soldier who disappeared April 22, was allegedly murdered by Army Spc. Aaron Robinson, according to a July 2 criminal complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney's Office Western District of Texas.
Robinson shot and killed himself last Tuesday when confronted by area police. Two days later, federal authorities filed a criminal complaint charging 22-year-old Cecily Aguilar, a civilian and the estranged wife of a former Fort Hood soldier, with conspiracy to tamper with evidence in the disappearance of Guillen.
Robinson told Aguilar that he killed Guillen "by striking her in the head with a hammer" while on-post April 22, and smuggled her body to a remote site in Bell County, according to the complaint. Aguilar allegedly then helped Robinson mutilate and dispose of Guillen's body.
"There are no words that can convey the sense of loss for her family, her friends and her fellow soldiers that I feel during this tremendously difficult time," Efflandt said. "We all feel her loss, the loss of a vibrant young woman who bravely volunteered to serve her country, the loss of a talented soldier, the loss of a loving family member and the loss of a bright future ahead of her."
It has taken the death of a soldier to highlight a long-running issue in the service, but like Mr. Floyd, Spc. Guillen's death seems to have taken on a life of its own. (No pun intended). It seems that this is just the tip of the iceberg, and Fort Hood is simply not a safe place for female soldiers. Many are now calling for the Fort's closure
A new petition launched by an Air Force veteran is calling on Congress to shut down Fort Hood, Texas and fire its chain of command for how it handled the case of Army Spc. Vanessa Guillen, the alleged victim of a brutal murder by a fellow male soldier.
Launched July 4, the National Women Veterans & Service Women Sign-On Letter -- #JusticeForVanessaGuillen, has so far gathered 2,100 signatures, among them hundreds from active-duty troops. In addition to the base closure and firings, the petition calls for an end to the entrenched culture of sexual assault and sexual harassment that exists throughout the military, Pam Campos-Palma, organizer of the petition, told Military.com.
"I have never seen something like this, ever," she said. "I am Latina, my mother is a Honduran immigrant. So I myself am Vanessa Guillen."
Campos-Palma said she was compelled to launch this petition after seeing so many female veterans post stories on the internet about being sexually harassed and feeling helpless in a culture that ignores the behavior.
"I saw all of these stories all over the internet that were so triggering, and all I could think about is, how many years are we going to keep ripping our wounds open to believed that this is a problem when we know it's a problem," said Campos-Palma, who testified before Congress last December about her experiences of being sexually harassed and assaulted while serving from 2006 to 2017 in the Air Force.
U.S. Navy veteran Stephanie Gattas said she helped Campos-Palma create the petition to "bring justice not just to Vanessa Guillen but to all the women before her that have been murdered or have been raped."
"It's very important that we stand in solidarity with Vanessa's family because we all share their pain we share their anger," said Gattas, the founder of The Pink Berets, a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting women of the U.S. military veterans afflicted with invisible injuries such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
"As people read this story, they cannot fathom the agony that this family has had to endure and not just losing their daughter who decided to give her life for this country but in the manner in which she lost it."
I'm sure that like everything else, the misogynist culture in the US military comes from the top down. Given the current Commander-In-Chief, at best there will be no change; at worse, this will escalate.
And speaking of escalation - I have written extensively in recent weeks about traitors and their symbols holding prominent places in the Southern part of this country. Many of those things have been removed, defaced, or otherwise destroyed in those weeks. But as we all know, there are many thousands in the South that claim that as part of their "heritage", and as we all know, anyone that claims confederate heritage is a racist, traitor, or worse.
So of course it should come as no surprise that a confederate descendant's group thinks destroying monuments to failure and surrender is exactly the same as the Taliban blowing up religious statues.
ATLANTA â€” A Georgia group is reiterating its strong opposition to the removal and damage of monuments in the state, calling such acts terrorism.
The Georgia division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans shared a statement made just days earlier by the Georgia Attorney General which provides the full law regarding monuments and the consequences for violating it.
Essentially, the law makes it illegal to remove monuments, including those for Confederate soldiers, from the grounds where they were originally placed - even by elected bodies who otherwise control that land. The law makes some allowances for repair, upgrades, and construction but requires they be moved back to their location afterward.
The law also protects public and private monuments from various forms of damage and vandalism and makes it unlawful to obstruct or hide them.
This has become a point of contention as monuments around the country - and in Georgia - become the center of a push for removal. In Georgia, the main focus of such movements has been Confederate memorials and obelisks.
And while critics refer to them as reminders of an oppressive past in the South, the Sons of Confederate Veterans and other organizations say they are a part of the region's history and culture.
Following the disclosure of the law protecting monuments, the Sons of Confederate Veterans shared their strong opposition to the destruction of monuments in Georgia - Confederate or otherwise.
In part, the organization said:
"We hold the services and sacrifices of our American veterans to be sacred and any acts against these heroes and patriots should be deemed by all patriotic Americans as an act of terrorism, equivalent to the atrocities performed by the Taliban and ISIS to erase the heritage and culture in their region."
"Crusade" is yet another word with negative connotations, but it matters not to me. If it is a crusade to destroy, erase, and otherwise remove all the Traitor Monuments in the country, the sign me up.