COLORADO SPRINGS — Nationwide protests were held Saturday to honor Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillén and raise awareness of sexual harassment and assault in the military.
Two local organizations, The Humanist League and Our Sisters Keepers Movement, held rallies to show support for the movement.
Desaree Gamez joined the United States Air Force at just 19-years-old. During her time, Gamez says she was sexually harassed and assaulted on more than one occasion.
Gamez came out to tell her story of survival and let it be known, the time for staying silent is over and there needs to be change within the system.
"I didn't reported it because I saw how the system worked in my 18 1/2 years of active duty service," said Gamez.
Her own story of survival led her to attend two rallies to raise awareness for sexual assault and harrassment in the military.
The first one at Memorial Park organized by Our Sister's Keeper Movement met to advocate for change within the system. A system Gamez says protects abusers rather than victims.
"We need to get rid of the good ole boy club," said Gamez. "We need to get rid of people protecting the predators."
She says there needs to be a third party involved with sexual assault investigations.
"We need civilian law enforcement, civilian authorities, civilian legal that are willing to go and fight for justice. Fight for what is right and hold these predators accountable. Lock them up, register them as sex offenders, that is what we need in our military today," said Gamez.
The second rally was held on Fort Carson by The Humanist Action League. Renee Reif who organized the event said the rally aimed to not only bring awareness to this on-going problem but empahize the importance of voting.
"We're going to fight for a better future for everyone, women, people of color. We can't let what happened to George Floyd or Vanessa Gullien happen to anyone again," said Reif.
Gamez spoke to the crowd on Fort Carson, telling her own story and advocating for change. She had one message to the young soldiers serving in the military right now.
"Stand up, use your voice, we have to stop being scared. We have to fight, we have to fight for what's right, what's fair and for justice." said Gamez. "I plead, speak your truth and speak your story. Talk about the system and how many times it has failed."
There are more rallies planned in the coming weeks.