WASHINGTON – Congressman Dave Joyce (OH-14) applauded the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) with an amendment that aims to improve the military’s practices for investigating missing persons. Offered by his fellow Co-Chair of the Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence, Rep. Jackie Speier (CA-14), this amendment, of which Joyce is a cosponsor, comes in response to the disappearance, and subsequent murder, of SPC Vanessa Guillén at the hands of another military servicemember. The amendment passed the House unanimously Monday night while NDAA passed the House this evening by a vote of 295 to 125.
SPC Guillén disappeared from her duty station at Fort Hood on April 22. She remained missing for months until July 5th, when her remains were tragically discovered. Before she was murdered, SPC Guillén reportedly told her family that she had been harassed by another servicemember but was too afraid to file a formal report. Law enforcement involved in the case have since come to the conclusion that SPC Guillén was murdered by a fellow soldier, SPC Aaron Robinson.
“Like many Americans, I was deeply disturbed by SPC Guillén’s disappearance and death,” said Joyce. “The horrifying events surrounding her murder led me to join the effort to improve the military’s practices for investigating missing persons. We must understand what could have been done to avoid this tragedy, and I firmly believe this amendment will help us gain that knowledge. As a cosponsor of this amendment, I was pleased that it was approved unanimously by my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and included in the final legislation passed by the House tonight. We must do everything in our power to ensurethat the system that failed SPC Guillén does not fail other servicemembers.”
Specifically, this amendment would require the U.S. Government Accountability Office to study and report to Congress on:
- the procedures established by each Armed Force for the investigation of a missing person;
- how the Armed Forces cooperate with other law enforcement agencies;
- available resources for such investigations;
- how procedures vary among the military services and compare with procedures used by local and Federal law enforcement; and
- best practices for responding to and investigating missing persons cases.
You can read the full amendment here. The NDAA also includes, but is not limited to, provisions that:
Support Our Troops and Their Families
- The NDAA supports the pay and benefits our troops and their families need, deserve, and have earned. This includes supporting a 3% pay raise.
Strengthens Our COVID-19 Response
- The NDAA includes several provisions addressing the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that the Department of Defense has the diagnostic equipment, testing capabilities, and personal protective equipment necessary to protect our Armed Forces.
- It also requires the National Security Strategy to address the provision of drugs, biologics, vaccines, and other critical medical equipment to ensure combat readiness and force health protection.
- The NDAA lays the foundation for an Indo-Pacific Deterrence Initiative to deter China.
- The bill also increases funding in emergent technologies, such as AI, to maintain a technical edge against China, and starts taking financial actions to pursue China’s graduation from the World Bank and greater transparency with China’s debt.
You can read the full bill text here.