Wednesday, June 25, 2008

New Zealand Herald column on LaVena

The New Zealand Herald has published an article on LaVena Johnson, written by contributing columnist Tracey Barnett who interviewed LaVena’s parents, John and Linda:

“I’m telling you there is no pain like it - there is no pain like it in this world. My daughter, the way they took her and what they did to her - it’s inhuman. I did not believe my daughter was placed among a group of predators. They treated her like an animal … ” Linda Johnson said, then added quietly: “And she was fighting for this country.”

The article looks beyond the particulars of LaVena’s death in Iraq to the wider issue of sexual assault in the military.

This is no single aberrant case. John Johnson has discovered far more stories that have matched his daughter’s than he ever wanted to know. Ten other families of “suicide” female soldiers have contacted him. The common thread among them - rape.

Meet today’s US military - sign up for the armed services and become almost one in three women who are raped or sexually assaulted by their own colleagues, according to Department of Defence statistics. Not exactly the kind of recruitment slogan that fills empty boots.

Barnett’s article is also posted at her own weblog - currently in the Recent category, and after this week to be categorized under Politics. Many thanks to the columnist for bringing LaVena’s story to the headers of the Herald.

Note: The promised video from the Black & Green panel discussion on Lavena will appear…soon! Having some issues processing it, but I’ll resolve those as quickly as possible.