19-year-old Private First Class LaVena Johnson was stationed in Balad, Iraq in 2005 and on July 19, 2005, she lost her life to an alleged suicide. After her parents, Missouri Dr. John Johnson and Mrs. Linda Johnson did some research, they had their daughter’s body exhumed and taken through another autopsy and they realized that LeVena did not, and more importantly, could not shoot herself in the mouth with an M-16 automatic rifle. Dr. Johnson maintains that his daughter was brutally raped, tortured, and murdered. And further, that her body sustained additional trauma to conceal the attack she suffered. Dr. Johnson was also mystified about how the exit wound of an M-16 shot could be as small as LaVena’s was. Something was fishy here.
The hole in LaVena’s head appeared to be more the size of a pistol shot rather than an M-16 round. Dr. Johnson questioned why the exit hole was on the left side of her head, when she was right handed. Things that make you go…hmm. Then there was also the fact that military uniform white gloves were glued onto LaVena’s hands, hiding third degree burns. This is the evidence that solidified Dr. Johnson’s suspicion that the Army’s investigation into the death of his daughter was flawed. Furthermore, Dr. Johnson received of photographs taken by Army investigators of his daughter’s body as it lay where it had been found, as well as other photographs of her disrobed body taken just prior to the autopsy.
These photographs reveal that LaVena, a small woman, barely 5 feet tall and weighing less than 100 pounds, had been brutally beaten. The photographs of her disrobed body showed bruises, scratch marks and teeth imprints on the upper part of her torso. The right side of her back as well as her right hand had been burned and there was clear evidence of sexual assault. Does this sound like suicide to you?
The Army’s official ruling stated that Johnson died from a self-inflicted, non-combat “intraoral” gunshot wound. According to investigators, Johnson was depressed at the time of her death and had made overtures to fellow soldiers that she was contemplating killing herself. Ninety-four United States military women have died in Iraq or during Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). Of these deaths, twenty or more have occurred under extremely suspicious circumstances; defined by the Army and the Department of Defense as “non-combat related injuries,” with the additional characterization of “suicide.”
LaVena’s tragic story is being reignited after nine years because of the documentary of her life, “The Silent Truth,” reports on alternative media such as Democracy Now and an article that appeared on The MadMan Chronicles.
Lingering questions about the LaVena’s death deserve answers, not just for her parents, but for any and everyone who has a heart big enough to care about a Black woman who was willing to fight for her country and died in vain and in mystery. Many of these stories happen all the time. Three rapes happen every hour in the military and 90 percent of survivors of sexual assault in the military are involuntarily discharged. The implications of LaVena’s death being labeled a suicide speaks to our dishonoring the dignity of her life (as well as others like her) and shows a general lack of concern for women in the armed forces.
Want to help fight for justice for LaVena? Sign this petition: It’s Time to ACT Now! Claim Justice for PFC. LaVena Johnson
Check Out This Gallery Of Powerful Women To Follow On Twitter:
1. 15 Powerful Women To Follow On Twitter
Social media has completely taken over our lives. I've always had a personal opposition against social media, often times claiming that it makes us even more unsocial. However, there is a lot of good in social media that one has to learn how to use for their advantage. The best way to take advantage of social media is to cultivate who you follow. Make sure that who you follow is applicable to your life as well as entertaining. Check out this list of 15 powerful women to follow on Twitter.
2. Erykah Badu
There's just something about Erykah that is beyond hypnotizing. Her tweets bring you into her world of being an artist and a doula. Yes, Erykah tweets about the babies she helps deliver. @fatbellybella
3. Gayle King
Besides being Oprah's best friend, Gayle King is known for being a CBS This Morning cohost and Editor-at-Large for O Magazine. Her take on the entertainment industry is often funny and exclusive! @GayleKing
This woman needs no explaining. Just follow her. @oprah
5. Michelle Obama
Obviously, following the first lady is the first thing you should do on Twitter. Under her new account @FLOTUS, not every tweet is hers, but when you see it signed in "mo, you can guarantee that the first lady is reaching out to you directly. @FLOTUS
6. Christiane Amanpour
As one of the most iconic TV journalists, Christiane Amanpour is a powerful Twitter user. She offers breaking news on global conflicts, and provides unique insights and perspectives to political happenings and world events. You don't even need to follow CNN if you're following Christiane. @camanpour
7. Soledad O'Brien
8. Chelsea Clinton
It helps that Chelsea Clinton is the famed offspring of Bill & Hillary Clinton. But she is also a tireless advocate for a healthy and safe world. As an NBC News Special Correspondent and active member of the Clinton Foundation, Chelsea has immeasurable insight of the world to share. @ChelseaClinton
9. Caterina Fake
Caterina Fake tweets about the latest digital news, technology and her own personal views, passions and interests. @Caterina
10. Zainab Salbi
Zainab Salbi is the founder of Women for Women International and served as the organization's CEO from 1993 to 2011. If you want news, stats and opinions on humanitarian crises, follow her. Oh and you can learn how you can contribute in making the world a better place. Who doesn't love that?! @ZainabSalbi
11. Robin Roberts
This "Good Morning America" news anchor is nothing short of amazing. With her inspirational story as a foundation, follow her entertaining tweets as she hobknobs with celebs and shares inspiring anecdotes from other cancer survivors. @RobinRoberts
12. Mary Grove
Mary Grove is the Director of Google for Entrepreneurs. With a passion for building her community, Mary is constantly tweeting about what's next in technology and business. @maryGrove
13. Maya Angelou
There's nothing but reverence in our hearts for Dr. Maya Angelou. Please follow this poet, educator, historian, best-selling author, actress, civil-rights activist, producer and director for tweets that are always worth retweeting. @DrMayaAngelou
14. Gabby Douglas
We've watched her kick major Olympic gymnast butt, but following Gabby Douglas is nothing like following an obnoxious teen who has more gold medals than you. It's just like following your little sister. Check out Gabby's adorable tweets! @gabrielledoug
15. Donna Brazile
You've definitely seen her byline before. Donna Brazile is a political strategist, contributor to CNN and ABC News, educator, author and more. Follow her tweets for absolutely everything a woman of color could ever care about. @donnabrazile
16. Shonda Rhimes
Other than creating one of the biggest shows to his Black Twitter since...well...anything Tyler Perry put out, Shonda Rhimes is one to follow on Twitter and in life! Her tweets are often inspirational and "Scandal"-related. @shondarhimes