'We must do better': Saturday vigil planned in Des Moines for Fort Hood soldier
Latino civil rights organizations in Des Moines have planned a vigil for Fort Hood, Texas soldier Vanessa Guillen, 20 — who went missing in April and was found dismembered two months later after being murdered and allegedly sexually assaulted by a fellow soldier — to demand the U.S. military take action and to highlight sexual violence against women of color in Iowa.
"We're very concerned with how the military has taken this issue on. It has failed to address the issues of sexual assault in the military," said Joe Henry of LULAC and Latino Forward during a Friday news conference in front of the U.S. Army Reserve building in Des Moines' south side.
"Statistics have indicated that assault has increased over the years, especially in the last two years. We need this addressed. We need a congressional committee to look at this outside of the military. This needs to be done right away," Henry continued.
Matty Tate-Smith of the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault agreed with Henry, saying the military must own its shortcomings head-on.
"At least 25 percent of women serving in the U.S. military have survived instances of sexual assault and rape. Another 80 percent have survived some form of sexual harassment. In fact, women in the U.S. military are more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than they are to be killed in combat," Tate-Smith said. "We must do better. We owe it to the services members who defend this country, we owe it to survivors, we owe it to Vanessa and to her family to do better."