November 15, 2008

LaVena Johnson Article

Tons of amusing things have happened lately, but I think I will just post this for now. On Wednesday night, I was asked to write an article for Seven Magazine on LaVena Johnson. It went out in the mailout for the magazine Friday morning as the lead story. Thought I would share - not because it is my article, but because it is an important issue that everyone should be aware of...

It starts:

November 11 was Veterans Day in the United States, a day to honour and respect those who risked their lives for American freedom, and those who died for it. As in many other cemeteries where veterans are buried, endless rows of white gravestones line the grass of Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery. Among them, with the simple black outline of a cross and an American flag waving at its side, there is one that reads: LaVena Lynn Johnson, PFC US Army.
LaVena, an honours student from Missouri, died on 27 July, 2005 - just ten weeks after she was deployed to Balad, Iraq, as a weapons supply manager for the 129 Corp Support Battalion. She was just 19-years-old when a shift supervisor from a nearby military cafeteria heard a bang and found her mutilated body inside a contractor’s tent. Though many remembered her bravery on Veterans Day, her death has not been given the respect and honour that this day commands.
A broken nose, loose teeth, acid burns on her genitals which were presumably to eliminate DNA evidence of rape, a dislocated shoulder, abrasions on her body, a long burn from her shoulder to thigh, torn vaginal area and a bullet wound through her head, LaVena was lying on the stony earth with gashes on the sides of her mouth, her hair tangled in the dirt, a bench turned upside down on top of her.

“Suicide,” the US Army Criminal Investigation Command claimed, despite nine months of investigation. Case closed.

To read the whole article and help LaVena's family, go to the Seven Magazine page.

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