¡Que Onda Magazine!

Houston's oldest bilingual publication

Vanessa Guillen honored with renamed U.S. Post Office

By Indira Zaldivar & Edward Saenz

In remembrance of Vanessa Guillen, members of the community, local government, U.S. Congress, and the Guillen family attended the dedication ceremony of the U.S. Post Office renamed in her honor. The ceremony took place nearly four years after 20-year-old U.S. Army Specialist and Houston native Vanessa Guillen was tragically murdered on April 22, 2020, in Fort Hood, Texas by another male soldier who had also sexually harassed her.

Que Onda Magazine spoke with Vanessa Guillen’s mother Gloria Guillen and older sister Mayra Guillen upon conclusion of the dedication ceremony. 

“[Her murder] hurt so much, especially for me, my children, and my husband, but God continues to lift us up day by day, and I hope it stays that way,” Gloria Guillen told Que Onda Magazine in Spanish.

“It’s wonderful that this post office is in honor of my daughter and that there are laws, streets, and perhaps more things in her name.

“It’s something very significant and precious that they don’t forget about my daughter and continue to honor her memory,” Mrs. Gloria added. “We can’t bring my daughter back with anything we do, but her legacy and memory remain here throughout this nation.”

The Vanessa Guillen Post Office Building is located at 5302 Galveston Road, Houston, Texas 7701, just a few blocks away from César Chávez High School – where Vanessa graduated from high school before enlisting in the U.S. Army.

The U.S. Post Office was renamed by an act of Congress in January 2023 signed into law by President Joe Biden. This marks the first post office to be named after a Latina in the Houston-area.

“Today, we dedicate this moment to the life and legacy of SPC. Vanessa Guillen, as we immortalize her courage through the renaming of this post office. SPC. Vanessa Guillén transforms from a local hero into an eternal presence in our daily lives,” said Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia. “Vanessa was a strong and ambitious young woman who was taken from her family and Houston much too soon. However, because of her, countless veterans and service members can live without fear. I hope this post office renaming brings some comfort to Vanessa’s family and loved ones.”

Vanessa Guillen was the middle child of parents Rogelio and Gloria. Her older sister Mayra and younger sister Lupe have been Vanessa’s fierce advocates alongside the matriarch of the Guillen family, Gloria.

The Guillen family’s relentless search and efforts, in honor of their beloved Vanessa, caused a national uproar and led to significant military reform. During the four-year legacy of Vanessa Guillen, Congress enacted the I Am Vanessa Guillen Act, criminalizing sexual harassment and assigning an independent party to investigate sexual assault cases in the military under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Multiple markers, including highways and streets, have been named in honor of the Mexican American soldier.

“It’s a bittersweet feeling,” said Mayra Guillen, community activist. “I’m happy, but at the same time,..it hurts, but I know she’s happy to see everything we’ve been able to do. It continues to bring her remembrance, her honor, her name after so many years.”