Friday, June 27, 2008

Salon Broadsheet post on LaVena

Writer Kate Harding - founder of Shapely Prose, contributor to Shakesville and Fatshionista - posts today on Salon's Broadsheet on the tragedy surrounding the death in Iraq of PFC LaVena Johnson.

Salon has published quite a bit about how American women in the military sometimes face more danger from their fellow soldiers than from their enemies, but the stories never seem to stop. And all too often, they go largely ignored by the media, as with the case of Pfc. LaVena Johnson.

In July 2005, 19-year-old Johnson became the first female soldier from Missouri to die in Iraq. She was found with a broken nose, black eye and loose teeth, acid burns on her genitals, presumably to eliminate DNA evidence of rape, a trail of blood leading away from her tent and a bullet hole in her head. Unbelievably, that's not the most horrifying part of the story. Here's what is: Army investigators ruled her death a suicide.

Harding draws parallels between LaVena's little-heard story and the widely-known similar tragedy of Cpl. Pat Tillman's death in Afghanistan. The post also draws upon Tracey Barnett's story on LaVena which appeared this week in the New Zealand Herald.

I can't thank Kate enough for bringing news of LaVena Johnson to the readership of Salon. Every article, every blog post, every mention of the Johnson family's effort to prompt a new investigation of their daughter's death brings us that much closer to some kind of justice.


Diane said...

so what do we do now?

Philip Barron said...

One thing that constituents of the members of the two Armed Services Commitees can do, Diane, is to contact those senators and representatives and voice support for a renewed investigation of LaVena's death. I have re-posted contact information for those legislators.

Another course of action involves contacting media sources of varying types - newspapers, TV news departments, talk shows on radio and television - to spread word of LaVena Johnson's case. Also whatever organizations you thing would have an affiliation for or interest in this case. Those organizations could be civic, social, military - if you believe LaVena's story would be of any interest to them, they are worth contacting.

Finally, I would suggest simply sharing this story with people that you know - friends, family, coworkers.