FORT HOOD — This week marks one year since Vanessa Guillen disappeared from Fort Hood.
As the Army post prepares to honor Guillen's memory with a gate dedication, her family still can't make sense of their enormous loss.
"April 19th was the last time I saw her, my family saw her, her fiancé and friends saw her,” said Lupe Guillen, Vanessa's younger sister. “I gave her a hug out of nowhere and said to be safe.”
Lupe says the family knows the importance of the gate dedication, which will become official in a ceremony Monday afternoon.
“That leads to 3rd Cavalry, which is where Vanessa used to work, so every time a soldier passes by they’ll see the name and see her picture. They’ll know we remember and to know if someone is going through the same thing, to speak up.”
That same thing is sexual harassment and assault, something the family says Vanessa experienced in the weeks leading up to her death. An independent review committee found those issues, and others, have been pervasive at Fort Hood for a year.
The Guillen's are still pushing hard for the #IAmVanessaGuillen Act to become law, even though it has stalled in Congress.
“The SHARP program has failed. I know they have ‘People First’ project, I don’t see progress,” said Lupe. “It had to take my sister’s case, and her life, in order for them to realize that there are so many major issues they still have to fix.”
Indeed, the post has been working hard on its People First initiative, first introduced toward the end of last year.
The gate dedication will be closed to the larger public, but people are encouraged to watch online at 1 p.m. on Fort Hood's Facebook page.