LaVena Johnson's father to speak at Veterans for Peace national convention

As part of its 22nd annual national convention taking place in St. Louis, Veterans for Peace will hold a press conference on sexual assault in the military on Friday, August 17, 12:30 - 1:45 pm Central. The event will be held outside the Robert A. Young Federal Building, 1222 Spruce Street. Among the participants will be Dr. John Johnson, father of PFC LaVena Johnson, the area soldier who died under clouded circumstances in Iraq two years ago. Other scheduled participants include:

  • Sara Rich, mother of Suzanne Swift, victim of rape while in the US military in Iraq
  • Maricella Guzman, victim of sexual assault while in the US military
  • Michael McPherson, Executive Director of Veterans for Peace and veteran of the US Army and Gulf War I
  • Sharon Kufeldt, Veteran of Vietnam War and Vice-President of Veterans for Peace
  • Ellen Barfield, served in Korea and former Vice-President of Veterans for Peace
  • Ann Wright, Colonel, Retired, US Army Reserves
From the VFP press release on the press conference:

Sexual assault and rape of women and men in the US military increased so dramatically during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that in 2005 then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld formed a task force on sexual assault.

Nearly one-third of a nationwide sample of women veterans who sought health care through the Veterans Administration said they experience rape or attempted rape during their service. Of that group, 37 percent said they were raped multiple times and 14 percent reported they were gang-raped. Department of Defense has been reluctant to release statistics on sexual assault of men in the military, but anecdotal evidence indicates that the statistics are alarmingly high.

Over the past 10 years, more than 700 US Army Recruiters have been accused of sexual misconduct or rape.

60 years of US military studies and task forces since women began entering the military in larger numbers have not lessened the incidents of assault and rape.

We call on the Department of Defense and the US Military Recruiting Commands and the Military Entrance Processing Stations to formally notify women and men of the statistics on the incidence of the criminal acts of sexual assault and rape of women and men in the military committed by fellow members of the military, many in their chain of command.
Links to additional information on sexual assault in the military may be found at the VFP National Convention media page (scroll down to 'References for Sexual Assault Press Conference').


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