Support War Resister Pvt. Ryan Johnson

Imprisoned a decade after refusing crimes of his country

Please support US military war resister Army Private Ryan Johnson by making a tax-deductible donation to his support fund, hosted by Courage to Resist. Doing so will help Ryan through the remainder of his prison sentence, and help Ryan and his wife Jenna relocate after his release. Donate today:

ryan and jennifer johnsonCourage to Resist. March 23, 2017

We at Courage to Resist are reaching out to you to help imprisoned Army soldier Ryan Johnson and his wife Jenna. We’re helping them get on their feet upon Ryan’s expected May release from Miramar Brig in Southern California. Your support is critical to help them begin their next chapter.

Ryan Johnson hasn’t gotten many easy breaks. He lost his father at the age of three. Growing up he would face years of abuse at the hands of a new stepfather. As a teen Ryan escaped into patterns of drug abuse, self-harm, and finally dropped out of high school. Now he endures insult of military imprisonment after literal injury serving the US armed forces. This pall of unfortunate circumstances doesn’t mean there isn’t light in Ryan’s life. He has persevered, with his compassion, kindness, and conscience intact.

Another bright spot appeared in Ryan’s life when he met Jen at a concert in 2000, through a mutual friend. They bonded immediately, and they’ve been inseparable since. In Jen’s statement to Ryan’s court martial judge she shared a touching story. Early in their relationship Jen was driving when Ryan turned and thanked her. “For what?” she queried. “For inspiring me to want to be a better person”. Ryan had found hope. Soon after they planned to marry, using their union as a fulcrum toward a new start for the both of them.

In spite of their thriving relationship, work options in their California valley town were sparse. The US Army was an escape route that promised deliverance for Ryan and his new wife. In 2003 Ryan Johnson and the United States Army entered an agreement. The Army never intended to honor its agreement (which his superiors confirmed), yet expected 100% unconditional compliance from Ryan.

The US Army promised Ryan a lot of things it wouldn’t deliver, and delivered a lot of things it didn’t promise. Ryan was promised a non-combat supply logistics career. He got a transfer to a non-supply combat  unit. He was promised military healthcare. He received medical malpractice- an untreated spinal cord injury with 2 crushed vertebrae. Also a broken jaw, nine missing teeth, and a floating bone fragment from a dental procedure gone awry. Ryan was promised honorable service to his country. He instead got orders to an illegal war, injuries be damned. With a year’s worth of opiates and a duffel bag, the Army was set on sending a broken soldier to a war zone. Ryan and his wife of now 15 years were forced to make an impossible decision. The stakes were high: Ryan’s well-being, that of Ryan’s fellow soldiers, and his very freedom.

Ryan made the decision not to go to war; he and Jen packed their car in the wee hours and drove off base. With assistance from the GI Rights Hotline, they learned their options. They found they weren’t alone in resistance. They attended a court-martial for Navy war resister Pablo Paredes. They met Army conscientious objector Camilo Mejia. They met prominent Gold Star mother Cindy Sheehan. They were seeing resistance was possible.

When the Johnsons didn’t feel safe at home in California, they packed up and sought refuge in Canada. Ryan and Jen became active among a tight-knit group of US war resisters in Toronto. They helped launch a chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War for GI’s north of the border. Ryan went on a Canadian national tour to bolster support for US resisters in the country.

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