Vanessa Guillén’s Family Files $35 Million Lawsuit Against U.S. Army

​A group of protesters hold up a sign reading "Justice for Vanessa Guillen" while marching in the rain

It doesn’t seem like too long ago that the disappearance and murder of Army specialist Vanessa Guillén sent shock waves through the Latino community.

Guillén was just 20 years old when a fellow serviceman murdered her after she threatened to report him for sexually harrassing her. If it weren’t for the efforts of Guillén’s own family, it’s very likely that her murder would have gone unsolved and unprosecuted.

Through constant advocacy and unyielding commitment to get to the bottom of their daughter’s disappearance, Guilen’s death was eventually discovered to be a murder and not a simple disappearance that the Army made it out to be. Honoring our servicewomen continues to be of the utmost importance, and Guillén’s family has now filed a $35 million lawsuit against the Army alleging wrongful death and assault.

The decision to file the lawsuit comes after a new federal ruling came out that allows service members to file claims against the military, something previously thought to be under the Feres Doctrine. The Doctrine explains that servicemembers cannot sue over injuries and damages sustained while in active service. The new ruling, however, explains that “alleged sexual assault [could] not conceivably serve any military purpose” and therefore has opened the doors for victims to come forward.

The ruling comes as a result of retired Col. Kathryn Spletstoser’s sexual assault accusations against four-star general John E. Hyten, who is currently the vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

It isn’t a new revelation that the life of female servicewomen and veterans is wracked with challenges, and despite that, it’s because of the persistent advocacy that women are now seeing new options for victims to come forward and seek financial retribution for their suffering.

It remains to be seen how additional cases and advocacy continue to change the culture of the military for women, but at least for the Guillén family, their daughter’s untimely death won’t ever be without a higher purpose.

Yuri Vega wearing a red sleeveless top looks at the camera. She has long blonder hair and is standing in front of a white brick wall

When Yuri Vega and Rommel Vega launched their footwear brand Holo Footwear two years ago, they had no idea where their journey would take them. Latina footwear ownership is almost non-existent and where it does exist, the products are often fashion shoes. Yuri and her partner decided to take on the extremely male-dominated sneaker market instead.

Not only did they choose to enter a very competitive market, but they took it a step further (pun intended) by deciding to make their products sustainable so that people don't have to choose between style, comfort, or mother Earth.

The path Yuri has taken is nothing short of inspiring and we hope she inspires other Latinas to walk in her shoes, literally.

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