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Newswest 9 | Midland, Texas | newswest9.com

Secretary of Army to request full independent review of Vanessa Guillen investigation

Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia and representatives from LULAC said the Army Secretary would ask the Dept. of Defense to conduct a full review of Vanessa Guillen's case.

WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy will recommend the Department of Defense conduct a full independent review of the entire Vanessa Guillen case, Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia said in a press conference Friday.

Garcia spoke in Washington D.C. along with the President of the League of United Latin American Citizens, Domingo Garcia and CEO, Sindy Benavides.

Guillen disappeared from Fort Hood April 22. Her remains were found June 30 near the Leon River.

In addition to the review, Sylvia Garcia said McCarthey will put together an expert panel to review everything specific to Fort Hood and its handling of sexual harassment claims. Domingo Garcia said McCarthy asked LULAC to recommend Latinos and Latinas for the panel.

"We hope that this commission will remedy the systematic sexual abuse of women in the military," Domingo said. "When a woman puts on the uniform and agrees to serve our country and takes that oath she should be treated equally to the men in the army."

"They were very clear they were not going to be on the defensive," Sylvia said. "They want to work with us. They want to get to the bottom of this."

McCarthy tweeted a photo of himself and the others he met with saying he wanted an "independent & comprehensive review of the command climate and culture."

Benavides spoke about the case of Gregory Morales. He disappeared in August 2019 and his remains were found in June in some woods behind a Killeen neighborhood.

"We know there is something mysterious going on at Fort Hood," Benavides said. "Not only do we have Vanessa Guillen's story but also soldier Morales who was declared as AWOL and now we know that his body was found. We want answers from the military to make sure that our community knows that when they enlist in the military they are safe on U.S. soil and our own military bases."

RELATED: Mom of Gregory Morales feels like her son has been forgotten after remains were found near Fort Hood

Domingo said they also discussed the idea of renaming ten Army posts, including Fort Hood, that are named after what he called "confederate traitors." 

"Fort Hood should be renamed for Sgt. Roy Benavides," Domingo said. "A medal of honor winner during the Vietnam War and a true American hero."

Domingo said McCarthy agreed to having a bi-partisan commission that will review renaming the Forts.

Domingo said LULAC also asked McCarthy to investigate how to bring Latino soldiers who were deported for non-violent offenses back to the U.S.

In a press release, LULAC said it would also be calling for the disbanding of Fort Hood's 3rd Cavalry Regiment to stop sexual harassment and other abuses. There was no mention of the disbanding during the press conference.

RELATED: 'Demand justice for my cousin, Greg' | Morales family demanding change, reinstatement

The Army Criminal Investigation Division said Aaron Robinson killed Guillen then shot and killed himself in the early morning hours of July 1 when police approached him in Killeen. Cecily Aguilar was also charged with conspiracy to tamper with evidence.

Aguilar told police Robinson killed Guillen with a hammer in the armory room on post then the two of them dismembered Guillen's body and buried the remains in three separate holes.

RELATED: Fort Hood confirms remains found near Leon River were those of Vanessa Guillen

Guillen's family and their attorney said Guillen was being sexually harassed but she did not report it to her superiors for fear of retaliation.

3rd Cavalry Regiment Commander COL Ralph Overland assigned a team to investigate the sexual harassment claim on June 18 but did not find any evidence to support the claim. Overland said the investigation was ongoing.

LULAC planned a peaceful protest to be held outside Fort Hood at 4 p.m.

The 3rd Cavalry Regiment has a long history in the U.S. Army dating back to 1846. It's seen action during eleven major conflicts including both World Wars, the Persian Gulf War, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

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