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POW deserves more compensation for suffering

Remember that girl who was injured and then captured in Iraq this past March? No, not Private Jessica Lynch, but Specialist Shoshana Johnson. Johnson is an American soldier that was shot and held captive for twice as long as the now infamous Lynch. Yet after enduring more severe injuries, Johnson is receiving less in the way of disability benefits than her famous colleague.

Johnson is a 30-year-old mother who is currently living at home with her parents. She walks with a limp and has trouble standing for prolonged periods of time after being shot in both of her legs. Johnson is also suffering from several symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, including depression, flashbacks and the inability to sleep.

In August, Lynch was discharged from the Army and awarded an 80 percent disability benefit. Yet the higher-ranking Johnson discovered last week that she would be receiving a disability benefit of only 30 percent; a difference of $700 a month.

Johnson will not speak publicly about the terms of her discharge, but according to The Washington Post, her parents say she was annoyed and bewildered when the Army released their decision on her disability. Johnson’s parents say their daughter has been treated unfairly and feel that race has played a factor because she is black. What it comes down to is that Lynch plays the role of the “All-American” white girl, while Johnson is the easily forgotten minority.

Claude, Johnson’s father, strongly believes that this is the reason for the discrepancy and he has enlisted the aide of Rev. Jesse Jackson to bring attention to their daughter’s case. Jackson told The Post, “Race clearly is a factor … here’s a case of two women, same unit, same war — everything about their service commitment and their risk is equal … yet there’s an enormous contrast between how the military has handled these two cases.”

Jackson makes a clear point: These two cases have been handled quite differently, especially considering the fact that Johnson was injured due to enemy fire while Lynch was injured in a vehicle collision.

Johnson, unlike Lynch, has not received a multi-million dollar book deal, an MTV special, or had a NBC movie of the week made about her, but it would not be unreasonable to expect the same heroic treatment as her fellow POW.

Johnson was shot, captured, and interrogated by Iraqi troops while Lynch was unconscious and being comfortably accommodated in an Iraqi hospital. While Johnson may not be the typical white-bred American girl, she served and suffered for our country as much as, if not more than Lynch, and should receive equal reward.