Vanessa Guillen bills introduced to rename stretch of Hwy 3

AUSTIN, Texas (KTRK) -- Texas lawmakers introduced new legislation Tuesday to honor the memory of fallen Fort Hood Spc. Vanessa Guillen.

State Rep. Christina Morales and State Sen. Carol Alvarado announced the new state legislation in a briefing. They said they hope to honor Guillen's memory and enact change and reform in the military community.

Morales announced a portion of State Highway 3 will be named "The Vanessa Guillen Memorial Highway." In addition, legislators unanimously voted to make Sept. 30 Vanessa Guillen Day.

"We are gathered here today to make sure this never happens again," said Morales. "She was not only a woman, but she was Latina that selfishly sacrificed to serve and protect our country."

Morales said they have called on Congress to pass the I Am Vanessa Guillen Act for "continued change in the military."

"When a parent entrusts her child to the Armed Forces, they should never have to worry about their safety," she said.

Fort Hood unveiled a new gate Monday afternoon in Guillen's name. The gate leads to the 3rd Cavalry Regiment where she served.
SEE RELATED STORY: Vanessa Guillen memorial gate unveiled at Fort Hood

This week marks one year since Guillen vanished from Fort Hood and was bludgeoned to death by Spc. Aaron Robinson, who killed himself on July 1 as police were trying to take him into custody.

"Let's not forget that for nearly two months, the military had such a slow reaction and lack of urgency," said Alvarado. "This opened our eyes to the shocking gaps in the Army's procedure, or lack thereof, regarding sexual harassment."

As Guillen's disappearance populated around the internet, hundreds of thousands of people, including celebrities, helped bring awareness in an effort to find her and bring her home.

SEE RELATED STORY: Salma Hayek brings soldier Vanessa Guillen's disappearance to wider audience

State Sen. Cesar Blanco, also a veteran, was in attendance at the briefing.

Blanco said he has witnessed firsthand that the culture in the military fails to protect women and men from sexual harassment.

"While the Texas legislature does not have jurisdiction over the United States military, what Texas does have is the largest state military force in the entire country," said Blanco. "We can lead by example by protecting our military members."

One of Vanessa's sisters, Lupe Guillen, also spoke but said her family is still struggling to process what happened. Despite their loss, they continue their mission for change.

Gloria Guillen, Vanessa's mother, was absent in the gate's unveiling and in Tuesday's legislation announcements. She has been critical of the Army's handling of her daughter's case.

Lupe explained that their mother wasn't present because she was overwhelmed with emotion.

"This is not a race issue, this happens to everyone," said Lupe during Tuesday's briefing. "She was only 20 years old and had a lot of life of live."

SEE RELATED: Timeline offers look at tragedy and legacy of Ft. Hood soldier
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