“Gender based violence?”

October 15, 2008 by Philip Barron  Email This Post Print This Post


Gregg Reese, contributor to the Los Angeles-based Our Weekly, has written on the case of PFC LaVena Johnson. The article provides an informative snapshot of the background behind LaVena’s death, autopsy findings and official statements, accounts of Congressional efforts that have thus far fallen short of results, and a broader look at the issue of ‘non-combat related deaths,’ including the similarly-suspicious death of PFC Tina Priest of Texas. From the article:

While a good deal of information about the mystery surrounding her death may be found on the Internet, surprisingly few of the mainstream news agencies have provided in depth coverage. At the same time, military and governmental entities have alternately been unable or unwilling to reach substantial conclusions about what transpired that fateful evening in July of 2005.

The staff of Essence, the women’s magazine geared towards an African American readership, reportedly went through a lot of soul searching (since the Army is a major advertiser in that periodical) before running a 300 word article.

Chief Warrant Officer (CW5) Paul Hudson, a senior Army criminal supervisor and an organizer of the meeting between the Johnson family and the investigative team, was reportedly on leave and was unavailable to Our Weekly during the completion of this article.

Official Army spokesman Paul Boyce informed Our Weekly via phone that the death of Pvt. Johnson was thoroughly investigated and data shared with the decedent’s family. While the case is officially closed, any additional updates would be closely “reviewed and evaluated.”

Congressman Ike Skelton (D-Mo), and the Armed Services Committee he chairs have been sympathetic to the Johnson Family, but since the initial contact, in the words of Dr. Johnson, have “dropped the ball,” and apparently have yet to commit to a formal investigation.

Freshman Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), has gone on record to declare she and other law makers have “…gotta find the truth about what happened to this young lady. Her family deserves that at a minimum…” Maria Speiser, spokesperson for McCaskill responded to phone overtures by Our Weekly by explaining that the Senator’s office has a policy of not commenting on continuing investigations.

Many thanks to Gregg Reese and Our Weekly for bringing LaVena’s story to a new readership.

A correction to one part of the article must be made here: The 12,000 signature petition to the Armed Services Committees of the Senate and the House of Representatives was not successfully delivered in this most recent term of Congress. Arrangements for delivery fell through, as both houses of Congress were largely involved in the latter days of the term with the financial bailout package and other issues. It is hoped that the ASC petitions can be delivered to lawmakers in the coming term.

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4 Responses to ““Gender based violence?””

  1. jennifer on November 5th, 2008 3:36 am

    How dare you the USA not do anything about this human being!!!! We believe in the justice of right and wrong in thuis country and do not fail us as an american to look into let alone prove the truth to this story… until then I’m ashamed to ever have supported the military!!!

  2. OmUrLus on January 28th, 2009 6:05 pm

    Military cases are to be resolved by military lawyers. All clandestine media information is solely journalistic science. People are masters of adding words to mere pictures or documents short of the facts. We owe the Johnson family more than rhetorical ado. Please refrain from adding doubts and circumstancial news to this family. Concerned veteran Earl Wheeler.

  3. OmUrLus on January 28th, 2009 6:31 pm

    A concerned veteran speaks-
    Fellow Americans please acknowledge! In war time people die from all kinds of ways which is categorized as collateral damage. It’s going to happen, its inevitable, some one will die. I’m not saying I condone these current reported affairs but I’m saying our nation thrives everyday on the freedoms from those whom sacrificed to uphold the needs of the many. Do you realize how many young soldiers die every year in training. You never hear about that because its the same as the Utility Companies across America charging rates and fees at will. You never hear about the Electric Company losing money or jobs. A tradgedy occurred and yes somewhere the investigative documents is being filed, in accordance to war policies and regulations. Only a military lawyer may be able to bring PFC Lavena Johnson’s case to rest. ONLY…Under military law.

  4. rtest on January 29th, 2009 10:31 am

    I believe her father is right. The accidents that may happen in Basic Training are accidents. Raping and murdering someone is not an accident. People are also masters at lying and covering up their mess. And the pictures her dad speaks of are not “mere pictures”. They are pictures that clearly tells what happened.