Our Weekly article on LaVena Johnson

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.

(Cross-posted from the LaVena site. Thanks!)

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