Fort Hood to name one of post’s gates after slain Army Spc. Vanessa Guillen

By Heather Osbourne Austin American-Statesman

AUSTIN, Texas — While murals in Austin and across the country pay tribute to slain U.S. Army Spc. Vanessa Guillen, Fort Hood officials have announced their own plans to honor the soldier at the post where she is believed to have been killed.

Army officials invited Guillen’s family onto Fort Hood once again Tuesday, asking for their input on design concepts for a gate to be named after their beloved sister and daughter.

“The gate we designated leads to the 3rd Cavalry Regiment area where Vanessa served,” a statement from Fort Hood officials said Tuesday. “The gate is accessed by thousands of soldiers, civilians and families every day.”

Natalie Khawam, the attorney who represents the Guillen family, said on Tuesday that the family appreciates the gesture and the great strides the post’s new top commander is taking to not only change the culture at Fort Hood, but also help protect and respect soldiers.

The post’s former commander, Maj. Gen. Scott Efflandt, was removed from his position in July.

“They told us of all the changes they are making and decided to dedicate the front gate in Vanessa’s name to remind everyone every day what happened so it never happens again,” Khawam said. “Our soldiers need to be protected, they deserve respect and they deserve to be honored for being the selfless heroes that they are.”

Guillen, 20, was last seen working on post in late April. In the months that followed, the Guillen family sought to raise public awareness about Vanessa’s case, holding protests outside of Fort Hood to demand that Army leaders ramp up their search efforts.

Guillen’s remains were found near a river 20 miles outside of Killeen at the end of June.

When police confronted a fellow Fort Hood soldier, Army Spc. Aaron Robinson, during the investigation, authorities say Robinson fatally shot himself before they could detain him for questioning

Investigators think Robinson killed Guillen inside a weapons room at Fort Hood the day she disappeared. Guillen’s family also alleges that Robinson sexually harassed her, but Army officials said they had no substantial evidence to support that.

Fort Hood, once known as a staging ground for troops deploying to wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, has made headlines this year because of a rash of violence by and against soldiers at home.

Army officials have confirmed that 27 soldiers stationed at the post died stateside this year, including five cases of suspected foul play.