The relatives of slain soldier Vanessa Guillen met Thursday with President Trump, who pledged her death would not be “swept under the rug” and offered to help pay for her funeral.
“It’s an incredible story. It’s a terrible story,” Trump said to the family in the Oval Office. “So we’re going to look into it very powerfully. We already have started, as you know, and we’ll get to the bottom of it. Maybe things can come out that will help other people in a situation like Vanessa. We’ll be in touch with you constantly.”
The Guillen family’s attorney, Natalie Khawam, said the 20-year-old soldier’s remains cannot be laid to rest because they are still in the possession of authorities.
“If I can help you out with the funeral, I’ll help you out, financially, I’ll help you,” Trump said.
The family had journeyed to Washington, D.C. for a Thursday march in Guillen’s honor, and to gain support for federal legislation to create an outside agency that would investigate claims of sexual harassment and abuse in the military.
Trump told her relatives he would research that proposed bill.
Also Thursday, an independent panel of five experts was announced by the Army to investigate whether personnel at Fort Hood have allowed sexual harassment and discrimination at the Texas base to flourish.
The independent review will be led by Chris Swecker, a lawyer and former assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division.
Guillen had complained of being harassed by superiors, her family said, but feared she would be retaliated against if she reported it.
Relatives, politicians and community activists have blasted military officials, saying they did little to find the missing soldier until her case gained widespread attention on the internet and in media reports.
Fort Hood authorities said they did all they could.
Guillen had been missing for two months before her dismembered and burned remains were found buried in concrete about 20 miles from the base. A suspect in her killing, a fellow soldier, shot himself to death as authorities approached him for questioning earlier this month.