Senate signs off on NDAA, Vanessa Guillen act, Pres. Biden to sign it soon

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Wednesday, December 15, 2021
Guillen's family welcomes move on sexual misconduct investigations
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Vanessa Guillen's family has been relentless in their mission to create meaningful changes since her horrific murder in April 2020.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A bill that reforms how the U.S. military handles crimes is now heading to the desk of President Joe Biden.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate signed off on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which included reforms driven by Vanessa Guillen's disappearance and murder.

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Houston U.S. Rep. Sylvia Garcia announced the news Wednesday on her Instagram, adding, "It's been a long road to get #JusticeForVanessaGuillen, but we kept up the fight & now, these reforms will go to @POTUS' desk."

The NDAA calls on special prosecutors to investigate claims of sexual misconduct, not a soldier's chain of command.

WATCH: Vanessa Guillen: Remember Her Name

The change is welcome news for the family of Guillen, an Army specialist from Houston, and military sexual trauma survivors. They've long said soldiers don't report abuse, fearful of retaliation. Guillen's family has long maintained she suffered sexual harassment before being killed by another soldier while in service to this nation.

Garcia added that this will "ensure that what happened to Guillen will never happen to another soldier."

"This is a bittersweet feeling," Guillen's sister, Mayra,posted on Instagram. "The loss of my sister created the biggest military law change in history. I awaited so long for this day."

The reforms are included in the $768 billion defense authorization bill the Senate passed. The bill creates a special office to handle independent investigations and prosecutions of crimes in the U.S. Armed Forces.

The bill also requires notifications for survivors on their perpetrator's outcomes, and requires the Department of Defense to track allegations of retaliation.