This is Private First Class LaVena L. Johnson. On July 19, 2005, Pvt. Johnson was found dead of a single gunshot wound to the head at her base near Balad, Iraq. Though her body bore evidence of an assault and rape, including a broken nose and chemical burns around her genitals, and there was no evidence that Pvt. Johnson was suffering from emotional distress, the Army classified her death as a suicide.
Even in light of the coverup behind Army Ranger Pat Tillman’s death, Pvt. Johnson’s death has been largely ignored by the mass media. Bloggers such as Kate Harding are making an effort to bring her story to the public, in the hopes that a proper investigation of her death will take place. Pvt. Johnson’s story is not unique. In this startling article, it is revealed that out of 94 female soldiers killed during Operation Iraqi Freedom, over a third were killed by “non-combat related injuries.” Some of these were vehicle accidents, but most have either been classified as suicides or unknown circumstances. In many of those cases, the deceased had recently reported being raped. This includes PFC Tina Priest, another victim of an alleged self-inflicted gunshot wound, though evidence suggests it would have been physically impossible for her to turn her service weapon against herself and PFC Hannah McKinney, who supposedly accidentally fell under the wheels of a military vehicle. Not only had these women reported being raped before their deaths, the accused were their fellow soldiers.