Archive for October, 2008

finally at the door!

October 28, 2008


Originally uploaded by jayfherron

It seems almost as if it has been planned this way-next week on November 6 I will be meeting the Honorable Ginny Brown-Waite,Congresswoman from Florida. It is one day day short of a year from having my hearing before a judge who heard the details of my rape and assaults. That hearing was 37 years over due….the answer is also over due.
I am not going to meet with Congresswoman Brown-Waite to talk about me.
My meeting with her is about the ‘silent wounded’…the silent and the scared.
The topic I want to discuss is what happens to those like me-the fears and anxieties that consume the life of a trauma survivor. Sexual trauma. Military Sexual Trauma.
I want to explain that many of the numbers that the Department of Defense offer as known offenses are incorrect-and only a guess. Many are afraid to come forward-many men and woman remain silent out of fear.

I understand that fear. Over the years I had to learn to live around it. It never goes away.
The Naval intelligence officer I reported the rape to the morning it happened responded with a chuckle,nodding his head and telling me to “get used to it”. That I have never been able to do.

What I want to tell the Congresswoman is that after living the way I have for all these years I finally found help through the Veterans Administration Hospital (in Gainesville Florida). That help was the first time I found a place of trust-that trust taken away by the VA Hospital…abruptly,as it was for a number of other veterans,also survivors.
I want to explain how during the few years that I was being seen for my ‘post traumatic’ issues it was suggested to me to appeal for a disability compensation. These appeals are handled by filing with the local Veterans Affairs office.
I trusted that idea. I was wrong.

When I met with the Veterans Affairs officer I was also met with remarks that were bigoted and racial. The ignorence of the man was too deep to fully reach. He was perplexed that “homosexuals had a need to rape each other” and was seemingly disappointed that my attackers were not blacks. A few weeks later more remarks came almost as if they were teasing me and I was going to get the joke-this time the room was full with others laughing along.
As you can guess this horrified me-and then angered me.

I want to impress upon the Congresswoman the need for a change in how the ‘silent wounded’ are met when they return to civilian life. We already know the numbers are high-but what has happened is too many remain silent out of fear of the same things I just described.
To be harrassed with the insensitive manners of an uneducated individual who’s job it it to hear the details of how a soldier was wounded is wrong. Perhaps it is so they possess the qualifications to take the reports of legitimate injury. By legitimate injury I mean those sustained while doing your duty-not those sustained while being forced sexually by a fellow service man…or woman.

I want to express to the Congresswoman that when such veterans do come forward and reach the proper health care area of VA Hospital that thier case should and must take a more sensitive route to be resolved.
To willingly enlist n the United States Military-to volunteer to do your duty to the country you love and live in…to do somethng honorable and yet to find yourself treated in the worse way imaginable,and then to be blamed for it-forever! It is wrong. And then to be unable to come forward out of fear-and unable to say that we are disabled too is a part of our civil rights being restricted.
It is those civil rights I am going to talk to the Congresswoman about.

This is for all of us. Let us hope God loosens my lips so I can say everything and say it properly.

October 24, 2008


     There is always hope I will learn more.  My cousin was here for his third visit. I tried to explain to him my circumstances were limited to the point I was so broke and was not able to go out to eat. He must not have heard me or something-so when he got here I had to explain that I had to borrow 40 bucks to drive to Jacksonville to pick him up, and that was the only 40 bucks I had. But I also explained as long as he put gas in the truck to go places that the rest would work itself out-at least my part, as frugal has been my lifestyle

For too long now, I know how to live poor.

 The visit had stumbles-especially over my cousins misunderstanding about money…meaning, he learned that it was not my intention to ‘bum’ off of him…something he had come to conclude was going to be the case from the beginning. He made a comment regarding it-and it hurt, so we talked it out-and it worked itself out.


It was a humbling experience. All of his meals were taken at a diner in the town near here-some 14 miles away each way. It is awkward sitting in a restaurant with out any means of your own.


The visit went on well enough. On the third day we had a bonfire behind my house and sat and drank a few beers and talked while we watched the fire. I have the impression it was cousins first time ever doing that-he was not impressed when I suggested the idea, but the chill in the night changed his mind. We were really able to talk-a good camp fire does that.

I told him the story as how my wife and kids and I came to live in these woods-homeless. And I told him how I hitch-hiked home from work with a few boards of lumber each day-that to build the cabin we lived in.


I remained humbled the entire week that he was here. Cousin is aware of what happened to me in the Navy-but does not understand my PTSD. Actually-I’m not even sure if he knew that crowds bother me-set off an emotional zinger that make me afraid and cause my anxiety level to go through the top of my head. He wanted to go down to Daytona to experience another ration of a motorcycle fest-I felt as long as it was daylight I could handle the press of people. At dark it turns into something else and the crowd expands. I asked several times if he was ready to go-and one time he told me “I have no reason to complain…he was paying for everything”. I allowed myself to cow down to his remarks-those I felt hurt by.


I drove him back to the airport yesterday. I sweated the way the gas gauge was going down to one level where you know it’s getting critical-but somehow made it home with out running dry.

Because it is a dirt road one can always tell if the mail has been delivered by the tire tracks in the dirt-you can see them as they go off the road towards the mailbox.

God again humbled my heart and blessed it at the same time.

My artist friend mailed me a check for 500 dollars.

I never get tired of learning.











October 20, 2008

Originally uploaded by jayfherron


I am stuck.
That is about as plain as I can put it.
My mind is there-along with my body,but there is the drag of depression (lingering) and a sense of defeat because of the above.
Mostly-I want to pack it back into bed and darken the daylight with my covers pulled over my head. I would honestly like to lay down and float off into eternity.
Well….what is it that makes this happen? If I knew-I would not go there again,but the mystery of it all keeps to itself.
There is no understanding it. I do not know why things are not normal-although I know how they must have come to be this way.
Actually,I’m not sure if it can be prevented from happening-as if it comes on like someone catching a cold.
But-I believe it is inescapable,because I cannot get away from my past-and from what happened,and from how that changed me…at least,I suppose it was change-it has been so long a part of me I cannot remember who I really might have been.

I write this on line journal because I need to tell it-I need to speak out and say the things that no one wanted to hear…no one in my family-and the silence of it all has taken its time eating away at me adding to the damage that is called my life.

I am a male…and although the term confuses me-I am a survivor of rape. It was not a one time thing-it is has been a life time thing. It is there each day as daylight comes and I wake up to my surroundings and remember everything that happened. It is a lot to remember because it has not ever ended-never gone away,I never got used to it as the officer I reported it to said to do…”get used to it”!

It is not bad enough to just wake up and the inventory is still alive in my head…moments ago I came in and sat in front of my computer-coming in from my bathroom,from doing something so simply a part of life and daily routine as going to the toilet….and the fact,not a memory,the fact of the damage to my body expresses itself. I am continually reminded of the events of my rape-and the continuing assaults that I lived with afterwards….for 38 years. Not too long from now I will shower…part three of the chore that is the rest of my life as it has been all of my life-to be reminded again. Every day. They are not polite memories-nor vague or distant (even if they are that old) they are permanent like an ugly tattoo. The showering part I believe is the worse of the three.

You see…it is right here that I am stuck. I’m wanting to say things about improvement and healing and changes for the better,and then…blam! I cannot tell you something that is not so-as if,healing is for others-and things will change,when you are validated you will see-you will feel better. The most I can say is getting back in bed and hiding under the covers is what I want to do.

I will say-it is difficult to live everyday with two lives. The one that people think you have-and the one that you have.

October 15, 2008

always waiting to load!

Originally uploaded by jayfherron

In my final years of trucking it always seemed ironic that the great majority of my loads where found on military bases-and moved to military bases. Sometimes we moved entire flight wings for the USAF. By flight wing-I mean the supporting equipment required to run a fleet of jets,or copters or planes. It all varied-sometimes not even making sense. For example-I loaded a perfectly good truck that could have been loaded with the equipment the truck next to me was loading…and the military could have loaded the truck I was intended to load and haul,and put two soldiers in it and let them go to where ever it needs to go. I remember once I hauled a tool box and an engine hoist and one 11′ long steel beam-loaded it in Maryland and hauled it to San Diego,to the Navy base there. An entire semi trailer practically empty-and not permitted to carry anything else because the military had full availability on the trailer. Something they could have loaded into a pick up truck and sent two young sailors across country-it would have made better sense.

Often we would load a brand new Bradly tank in York (PA) and carry it south to Ft.Stewart (GA) and load another tank and carry it to Texarkana (TX) and unload it,and there we’d load some kind of a machine or another and haul it to Chambersburg (PA) and then head back to York to make another circle. After a few times like that you wanted the circle to break.
Sometimes we’d just get to do it at Chambersburg-the truck would head back south towards Grove-and from there we’d haul a crane.
But to me-the ironic part was the military bases.

I don’t mind saying,I used to think about it along the miles. I was good at what I did-a million miles with out a damage claim of any kind…well,I did knock in a corner of a store-but I never wrecked a truck. I was in charge of a huge machine-it was like I captained my own ship,the highway was the open sea.

A military base has its own style of structure. I don’t know how to describe it-they are huge in space,like Fort Irwin in California,the drive from the main highway and up theirs was 50 miles easy. But the moment you got there you knew it was a military base. It just differs from any other type of industrial area-yet they all look the same. Fort Irwin was at least 50 miles in each direction-from the center. I have seen others just as large.

It seemed sometimes it was a bitter sweet hint of the life I might have had. In my own private world-giving it to me in a private way. I often loaded over size equipment and was skilled in anchoring the various machines to the trailer. Despite the building I cracked open-I never had a damaged piece of equipment.

The bitter sweet hint of life was from the part where the Navy crew would be involved almost everything-or the Marines would take charge of their ordinance,or the Air Force crew loaded the jet engine. The uniforms and aura of the place mingled with my past every time.

What a strange thing. To take refuge in a truck with a sleeping cabin attached to the rear-to be able to flee from relationships,isolating myself from others…all because of what took place in my life at barrack D. And here I am on military bases.

self portrait

October 13, 2008

self portrait

Originally uploaded by jayfherron

I am hopeful the above link will direct you to the article I found yesterday. The article covers the story of a male survivor of Military Sexual Trauma (MST) and relates similar circumstances which I write about here…and effects of ‘post traumatic stress disorder’,alcoholism…fear of relationships,and more confirming the things I have said.

Please take a moment to read this article-and to pray that I am steady at hand with ‘copy and paste’.

still life…

October 12, 2008


Originally uploaded by jayfherron

I can not ever explain it as why everything seems to be then. Then meaning,time has somehow stood still in places in my mind as if it was only yesterday that things had happened,and the rest in between is in slow motion.
My habit is to wake every day before daylight and now as the seasons are changing the mornings are back to a familiar chill. To me there is an association with the schedule of events in my life. I seem to be unable to forget what my life was like at age 18. It seems often that I am stuck there.

It was this time of year I was due to report on the USS Vulcan in 1969. It seems to be the main marker in my life-I wake up feeling something about it everyday,it never quits eating at me.
In my mind I can walk about the ship and remembering every place in every way.

I have never really explained everything. It is too complicated and too hard to believe-even myself,I have a hard time understanding it and yet it happened to me.

It was such a strange era to grow up in which ads to the confusion of it all.
Every morning when I wake up and hear the sounds of the silence of early early morning-the sounds of before daylight,I do this inventory of my life and it always begins there.
It is not exactly a pleasant feeling-it certainly is not the everlasting memory I would have liked to have. It definitely never goes away instead it is like an everlasting deja vu.

It doesn’t matter what time of day it is-it seems beginning the morning the same way each day helps it all linger. The guilt and the shame,which shouldn’t belong to me but are mine to bare regardless. None of it was my fault.

I actually hate myself the way it has all taken over my life. I try to pray a lot and most of them have the question if I might have this as my last day. God hasn’t been too faithful in responding to that request-but I am faithful in asking. This morning is no different.

I thought my life was going to be renewed on the USS Vulcan. I really believed my education was going to continue and the Navy was going to train me to advance-I knew it was where I wanted to be,at first. If things had only been different.

My son is a USN-CPO. He has just about forgotten the many nights when I would cry and instruct them to not have things happen the way I had them happen-why our lives were the way they were. I had hoped to reach as far as he has in my military career-and further.

Shortly after I entered my life on the Vulcan-we shipped out to Cuba. We stayed in Cuba for what seems a lifetime,but was only about a month,then we sailed to Montego Bay before returning to Norfolk. I was hooked for sure by then,yet it turned out to be the only sea going I have done in my life.

By the time we returned to Norfolk the seasons had turned to the time of holidays. The ship was divided into three groups-the holidays off,my group was New Years weekend.

My life changed forever that weekend-that New Years Eve,why I capitalize it I do not know.

There was a Greyhound bus that made a stop at the end of the pier where the ship berthed. That bus linked you to a bus that ran to Washington DC,where my family lived at the time in the Maryland side. That bus ran round trips often enough it was easy to go to DC on a liberty pass-and though it was an all night chance to ride up and back and have some fun in between,many did it. Usually if a sailor was late he earned three days restriction on board ship-nothing more.

With my liberty pass for the New Years weekend I was free to be off for 72 hours,but I also had that Friday night off-so I could make that bus and take the chance,just to be home for the first holiday I had ever been away for in my life. Except I had not thought about it snowing-and it snowed so bad that by the time we got to Washington I had already lost the hope of being back on ship that morning for roll call-afther which my 72 hours began officially.

I was smart enough to remember that in boot camp they taught us if the occasion raised where we were late by means of public transportation there was an office in bus stations that we could report to-and I did. The military liaison in that office telephoned the USS Vulcan and we were told that since I had a liberty card that began that morning to go ahead and enjoy my holiday.

I remember getting a ride to my families home with a newspaper man named Eddie Lachman-from Holland,and he drove us in a VW bug through all that snow.

I don’t know what took place in my absence-but the following day my brother and his wife showed up,he had been sent by the ship to ‘arrest’ me. It seemed there were statement made that I had done drugs-all was a lie,but my brother scared me so bad that I was afraid and confessed to something I had not done. I lied to get away from what was happening-and ended up in worse.

I was driven to barrack D in a USN van. I got there about 8:30 at night-I had never been in a detention center,and once I entered I was more scared than back at the Vulcan.

I remember the introduction I go when I received my blanket and pillow…”welcome to barrack D-drunks,drugs,and degenerates”,spoken by a man who acted as if he were a woman. Nothing more-nothing at all.

I entered the gate that kept us separated from freedom into a barrack area filled with men. My immediate reaction was to get as far apart as possible-which then meant a bunk that was at the end of the barrack. I think it was that choice that opened me up to be a victim-but at that time I had no idea what to think.

By that time I had to pee very badly. But I waited-because of fear.

I had spread my sheet out on the bunk and lay back and was immediately greeted by the men who would later attack me-one called me ‘mister’ and I’ve hated being called mister since.

I can recall all of it,it happens every morning-just before daylight.

I felt that it was safe to go to the head after everyone seemed asleep. I was wrong and with in a moment of entering the urinal area I was greeted by ‘mister’ again and punched up side my head and raped.

That was in the wee hours of New Years Eve 1969-70.

boot camp…

October 7, 2008

Originally uploaded by jayfherron


I found the attached clip from a ‘comic’ book sometime in the summer of 1969…just weeks before I entered boot camp. Little did I know I would eventually mutter similar words.
As kids,comics were the form of entertainment -the variety was to wide for me to think of remembering them all,but I do remember the war comics as being some of our favorites.
Our street where I was a smaller boy looped through a hillside neighborhood that began at a higher level of the hill and ended down in the bottom in a gully-most of that area was wooded,and that is where we acted out our versions of ‘Combat’. We had every bit of nazi Germany at our hands. Hazbro (toys) had made a ‘tommy gun’ that had a lever that you pulled back-and upon release the toy made a sound that was exactly like a real machine gun.
We were brought up in an era that kids made heros of the veterans. I will never forget the old soldiers (the veterans) as the stood in the intersections and walk from car to car selling the Poppys…a little hand made red flower fixed to a wire. They were fixed to our shirt collar-and I remember those old men. I can think of how in awe I was.

Looking back almost 40 years ago-this date would be right at my last week of boot camp. Boot camp wasn’t as bad as it was made out to be on the film starring Jack Webb -The D.I.-which somehow conveniently came on a late movie only days before I went to boot camp. I expected our Drill Instructor to match Jack Webb’s character,and after meeting him the first morning (he was waking me up screaming I wasn’t at home anymore) his face bellowing into mine-directly,and loud! I knew right then-what ever this guy tells me,I’m doing it.
I met and became friends with Spencer on the trip to Great Lakes,and it made things more fun to have another to laugh about it all with.
I remember that final week. We had liberty to walk around the training camp-twice the size of any university campus,and as if it was automatic,we headed for the gedunk. The gedunk was a huge retail area attached to a large room the size of a small auditorium. That final trip we found the rows of tables selling ‘grips’ and a separate group of tables with men with white markers-they were there to letter the black grips with logo’s of our ships or names or American flags. It was all up to you. I got one with the USS Vulcan lettered on it. Little did I know-we couldn’t take them on board ship.

The last week of boot camp had a special aura to it. We knew it was coming to an end-we had made it this far,there was going to be no more ‘send backs’…the guys who made clear the threat to be sent back to begin boots again,as a punishment- because the boot could not seem to get the picture,or was a trouble maker to begin with…the threat was real. So we made it to the last week and things were more relaxed.

The mornings started at 0400. That’s two hours from 6 o’clock A/M-earlier than our parents woke us up for high school,but once I was used to it it became my favorite part of the day. There is that moment just before daybreak where the birds start singing…and no matter where you are-the sweet noise makes yo feel good,even in boot camp.
The last day was no different. We marched in small groups down to the mess hall-a place so huge it had ten or more serving lines. We felt so hardened compared to the fresh boots that lined up along one wall-heel to toe,that’s how we stood. Step by step in a shuffle of sorts-all the while our every move was under the eye of someone to ensure we kept order.

It is such a disappointment-something you wanted most of your life. Playing combat games as a kid-not realizing how we were being programed to want to do these things-have war. But we played them anyway-and the games gave us the impressions of being hero’s…and the games did a good job because that’s what I was looking for when I finally became enlisted.

So before I went to boot camp in August 1969,I tore this one scene of a comic page out of the book and kept it in the Bible I had bought on my 18th birthday-I still have it too.
I had thought if I was to mutter the words this boots is saying “G’gosh…I-I never thought it’d be like this!!” I’d be doing so in a real extreme situation like being shot at with real bombs.
I never ever thought of a scenario as compared to what ended up happening. I never exactly knew anything like what happened even existed…we weren’t so knowledgeable then,at least-I wasn’t.

I get out this old book-titled ‘The Keel’. Every year about this time-I get it out and look at it. The Keel is like a high school year book-but about the USN Company 507,which I was in. My boot camp division.
I had long ago transferred this comic clipping from my Bible to The Keel…and looking for something to bring back sweeter memories I found it once again in the pages.
It brings back the memory of the day I tore it out of the comic book. We had long since moved from West Virginia and that house up in the hills where the road looped down into the gully where our war games were played. I’m glad I kept it as a memento to those days-more innocent then we ever knew.

complete with typo…

October 1, 2008

from CongressI recieved this letter and was immediatly thrilled that -at last-we may have a voice where it will count.
Unfortunantly-Wall Street is more important at the moment.

I write this brief entry to encourage the many ‘silent wounded’ of military service,those who have experienced Military Sexual Trauma-and have found themselves afraid to come forward for your your civil rights…the rights you enlisted in the military to protect.
There on this letter is a telephone number and a name to contact-raise your voices!

I want to encourage each one of you-speak up…shout! You have found yourself wronged by the service you thought was in place to protect-instead you were harmed in a way that is unacceptable,and returned to learn that you are meant to be silent…you should not be!

To be a military service man and woman is supposed to a place of honor and duty-not where you are meant to be attacked by your own (or anybody) and subjected to an assault of great proportions and consequences to your body and mental health,and your future.

You deserve to be heard…shout!
Telephone the Congresswoman and tell your story!
Military Sexual Trauma is an injury-although in all definitions,not a legitimate injury,but never the less-you have been injured,and you have rights-although they are being restricted to you because of the nature of the way you received them. Why should one continue to be punished-especially by the country you volunteered to serve?

Originally uploaded by jayfherron