US Army: Ft. Hood slain soldier Vanessa Guillen’s death was ‘in the line of duty’

Southwest

WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 30: U.S. Army Private First Class Vanessa Guillen’s sister Lupe Guillen addresses supporters and calls for justice in Vanessa’s death during a rally on the National Mall in front of the U.S. Capitol July 30, 2020 in Washington, DC. PFC Guillen went missing from her post at Fort Hood, Texas, on April 22 but her remains were not discovered until June 30. A fellow soldier, Aaron David Robinson, was the main suspect in Guillen’s murder and shot himself to death as he was approached by police. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

FORT HOOD, Texas (NewsNation Now) — The family of Spc. Vanessa Guillén will be entitled to benefits after the U.S. Army officially determined the slain soldier’s death was “in the line of duty.”

The Guillén family was notified on Tuesday according to a statement released by Fort Hood officials.

“This determination establishes that the Guillén family is entitled to a variety of Army benefits for Vanessa’s service to our nation,” said the release. “Typically these benefits include compensation to immediately help the family with expenses, funeral with full military honors, the Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance, and final pay and allowances.”

Guillén disappeared from Fort Hood where she was stationed on April 22. Army officials confirmed on July 6 that her remains had been found. Investigators said she was bludgeoned to death on base by a fellow soldier, Spc. Aaron Robinson, who killed himself on July 1 as police were trying to take him into custody, according to a federal complaint.

Guillén’s family has said Robinson had sexually harassed her, but the Army has said there is no evidence supporting the claim.

Members of Congress launched an investigation of Fort Hood in September after Sgt. Elder Fernandes was found dead on Aug. 25 hanging from a tree in Temple, Texas, months after reporting sexual harassment.

Under new proposed legislation named “I am Vanessa Guillén Act,” active duty service members would be allowed to file sexual harassment and assault claims to a third-party agency instead of their chain of command. The bill’s name came from a social media hashtag under which current and former soldiers have shared their own accounts of sexual assault and harassment

Guillén and Fernandes are among 28 soldiers at the base to have died this year, including five homicides and six suicides, according to Army data, reported by The Associated Press. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy says that based on Fort Hood’s average of 129 violent crimes between 2015 and 2019, it has one of the highest violent crime rates among Army installations.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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