By LUIS MARTINEZ, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. Army has informed Spc. Vanessa Guillen’s family that they are entitled to her full Army benefits because her death was “in the line of duty,” according to an Army statement.
“The Army briefed the Guillen family Oct. 20 on the results of the line of duty investigation into Spc. Vanessa Guillen’s death,” said a statement released by Fort Hood on Tuesday.
“This investigation concluded that Vanessa’s death was ‘in the line of duty,"” the statement said. “The Army conducts a line of duty determination for all Soldier deaths.”
“This determination establishes that the Guillen family is entitled to a variety of Army benefits for Vanessa’s service to our nation,” said the statement.
The compensation includes her servicemembers’ group life insurance, her final pay and allowances, and help with the cost of her full military funeral, as well as other benefits, the Army said.
“The III Corps leadership remains in contact with the Guillen family to keep them informed of the additional actions being taken at Fort Hood, and what policies are being revised to ensure Army culture continues to put people first and honors Vanessa’s life,” the statement added.
Guillen disappeared from Fort Hood on April 22, triggering an investigation that eventually led to the discovery of her remains on June 30. Investigators then quickly determined that she had been murdered by fellow Spc. Aaron Robinson, who later took his own life as law enforcement closed in on him.
The Guillen family’s claims that she had been sexually harassed at the base led to a moment of reckoning, leading current and former members of the military to step forward with similar claims. Investigators said they have not found any information to prove that Guillen was sexually harassed.
Guillen’s family also complained that Fort Hood authorities did not make finding Guillen a priority and said that base leadership did not keep them informed of developments in her case.
Last week the Army announced new changes that will prioritize efforts to locate soldiers when they do not report for duty, instead of listing them as Absent Without Leave (AWOL) as has been the norm.
A service member who does not return to duty after 30 days is dropped from the rolls and listed as a deserter. The military services do not make it a priority to look for deserters.
The hunt for Guillen this summer led investigators to the remains of Pvt. Gregory Wedel-Morales, who disappeared from Fort Hood in August 2019, just weeks before he was to leave the Army. He was listed as AWOL and dropped from the rolls after the 30-day period.
Army investigators later determined that his death was the result of foul play while he was on active duty.
That conclusion led to the restoration of his rank and military benefits for his family, including the costs associated with his military funeral.
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