President Donald Trump hosted the family of murdered Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen in the Oval Office on Thursday, where he offered to personally pay for the slain soldier’s funeral.
The president also said it would not be the first time he has covered such expenses following the death of a servicemember.
What are the details?
Guillen went missing from Fort Hood in April, and her body was found more than two months later in a shallow grave. A fellow soldier suspected of killing her committed suicide as investigators closed in to arrest him, and the victim’s family says she was sexually harassed prior to her murder but did not report it out of fear of retaliation.
Fox News reported that the president invited the Guillen family to the White House to share their story, and said during the meeting that he did not want what happened to Guillen to be “swept under the rug.”
According to the New York Post, President Trump offered to pay for Vanessa’s funeral, adding, “I don’t even know if you need help, maybe you don’t need help from a financial standpoint. I have no idea. I just think it’s a horrific thing that happened and if you did need help, I’ll be there to help you.”
A reporter asked the president if he has offered to pay for the funerals of other soldiers in the past, and he replied, “I have, I have. I have to do it personally, I can’t do it through government. I have because some families need help. They need help.”
Ever since Vanessa’s disappearance, her family has accused the Army of withholding information from them and asked for a Congressional investigation into what happened. Following outrage over the specialist’s death, the Army launched an independent panel to “review the command climate and culture at Fort Hood,” ABC News reported.
During a speech on the National Mall on Thursday, Vanessa’s mother, Gloria Guillen, told the crowd in Spanish (as translated by Fox News), “My daughter is already history. If the president of the nation wants to make history together with my daughter, he’ll make sure that devil base is closed and all the damn corruption that exists in the Army is cleaned out.”
The Guillen family is pushing for legislation, called the #IAmVanessaGuillen bill, that would allow active duty servicemembers to file harassment claims through a third party rather than up the military chain of command. President Trump told them Thursday that the legislation has his support, and that “we’re working on it already.”