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'I Am Vanessa Guillen Act' Headed To President Biden's Desk For Signature

NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) — The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) has passed and it includes military reforms prompted by the murder of Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillen.

The Senate passed the 2022 NDAA on December 15. The bill now headed to President Joe Biden's desk would shakeup how the military handles and prosecutes allegations of sexual assault and misconduct.

The 'I Am Vanessa Guillen Act' would create a special office to handle the investigation and prosecution of military crimes. This would be done by appointing independent prosecutors to investigate claims of sexual misconduct, not a soldier's chain-of-command.

The bill would also require that survivors be notified about the outcome of cases against their alleged abuser and require the Department of Defense to track allegations of retaliation.

Supporters say the bill is meant to encourage more victims to come forward in cases of sexual harassment/assault and take away any fear of retaliation.

Guillen disappeared from Fort Hood, near Killeen, in April of 2020, and Army officials announced on July 6 that her remains had been found. Investigators said she was bludgeoned to death on base by a fellow soldier, who later killed himself.  Guillen's family claims Guillen had been sexually harassed by the fellow solider suspected of killing her, but the Army has said there is no evidence of that.

After the murder of the 20-year-old, members of Congress joined advocates for women in demanding systemic shifts in military culture.

The Vanessa Guillen Act went into effect on September 1 in Texas. The state law created a sexual offense prevention and response program for the Texas Military Department.

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