no wrongdoing…


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Originally uploaded by jayfherron

How can I begin?
I have longed for 38 (almost 39) years for those words to be spoken on my behalf regarding my military service in the United States Navy.
No wrongdoing.
I can’t begin to explain the feeling those words give me.
The copy of the page they are written on is attached to this that I write this morning.
That page is the last page of 7 signed by the Veterans Law Judge; my life compressed into 7 typewritten pages…those pages telling that my story is true.
Those pages telling me that I AM a Veteran. That has always been important to me.

I wished my father could see-he passed away last December, so only in spirit can he know.

I wish I could make sense it all. Here I was wanting to do my part, to do my duty and serve my country…and to please my Dad.

There has always been a missing chunk of this story-my story. The whole damned thing sounds so unreal it is hard for even me to comprehend. I’ve seen my neighbor commit suicide when  just a boy. I saw my own brother die under the wheels of a car, he was just a boy. And the details of my life in the Navy. It’s just so much to try to comprehend.

So I’ve kept part of this to myself because it’s almost to crazy to believe.

I wanted to prove myself to my father. I can’t figure what all of it means. In the Bible there is this family of brothers and one of them has dreams and tells his father about the dreams. The other brothers become jealous and end hating the dreamer. So they come up with this idea to sell the brother as a slave and tell the father he was killed by a lion. It turns out-the dreamer…now a slave,ends up being a very wise man and the king that had him as a slave put him in a high position. The position he was in turned out to be one of great power-and one day his family of brothers came from far far away-as the dreamer had been carried a far distance to become this slave,and the brothers begged the dreamer to help them-not knowing the boy they sold as a slave had grown to be this powerful man. And he helps them.

This story to use to try to explain how twisted lives get because of jealousy-or hatred. And how the lives turn out?

I thought when I was asked in U.S.Navy boot camp if I had a family member I desired to be stationed with that my own brother would be thrilled to have me along. I had no idea what the jealousy was going to be like-nor the hatred. It took me years to realize that was what it was.

When I boarded the USS Vulcan as a fresh boot ready to train on this huge ship I was about to embark I believed right then this was the greatest life. To be living on this ship and sail the sea-I was in love.

The first task of coming aboard is to be toured around-meeting the payroll officer and finding the post office and galley. Part of it was where to be assigned, and the final was to be tested by the ships education officer. My tests were done well enough I was offered an opportunity to re-enlist for a longer term and they were going to send me to college-and I’d come back as an officer. My brother scoffed that idea the moment I told him. I thought it was the greatest news-but he turned it into the worse response and beat me down with it. I continued to carry the dream.

My brother did everything he could to make my life on ship-shit! He had control of the laundry and mutilated my work shirts to where I was restricted to certain parts of the ship-otherwise, I was out of uniform. The misconception the military gives us those uniforms is wrong so I couldn’t afford new work shirts. I couldn’t enter the education officers area.

When I was free of my brother I had an awesome time. I had friends. When we sailed to Cuba and then on to Jamaica-my friends and I had the best of times. I enjoyed the Navy and all the way up to the day my brother was sent to arrest me I had believed this was going to be my life-to live on these great ships…perhaps even command one.

I can not explain the twist in my story any more I can about the life of the dreamer I told you about. Why things happen in such a strange way? I cannot explain. I lived all of these 38 plus years in a world of pain-mental pain enhanced because it had to be kept inside. When my brother was sent to ‘arrest’ me I had done nothing wrong. I was surprised to learn that I was accused of drug abuse. I was at our parents house when my brother was sent. It had snowed and I was stuck there-so it was just a dumb case of AWOL that had an okay anyway (I was excused by a telephone call to the ship earlier)…but something had happened in the few hours I was gone. I will never know what it was.

I was taken to barrack D…detention barrack D. It was there the worse of this began-I was beaten up and raped. Over 38 years ago…and it seems like just a moment ago. It has been like that for longer than 38 years-everyday. Like I said-mental pain.

Like that dreamer-a boy sold by his brothers…gone and the distance and never to be seen again, until years later. How is it that to me justice comes now? How is it that I have to spend 38 years of guilt that I did wrong-and then be told there was no wrongdoing?

My faith in God has always kept me-more so…amazed me. I never let go of that God loves me-and that all of this…every inch of my life-God has known this, and for this time we were the only two that knew I was the one with the truth. My Dad has died not seeing the words “no wrongdoing”, and that makes it hard still-wronged even still.

Tomorrow is Veterans Day. It is separate from Memorial Day-for it is a day to salute our living Veterans and pay homage to their sacrifice to the United States. I feel a strange sense of belonging now. I’ve re-read these 7 pages over and over since they arrived last week. It is these words on the last page that Judge has signed-“no wrongdoing” that will at least help me stand among our Veterans proudly.

7 Responses to “no wrongdoing…”

  1. James Landrith Says:

    Hello Sailor, I’ve not been by your blog in a while, but I am so glad to read this particular entry.

    I know it doesn’t make up for all those years of pain, but I am glad to see the truth – at least part of the truth – admitted.

    • jayherron Says:

      I really appreciate your interest in my blog-thank you for being a faithful reader-and your comments,and thank you-because by winning this means others will win and recieve justice!

  2. Austin Says:

    Hell yes!!! I know this piece of paper means a lot to you. I’m glad to see it in your hands and glad to see you are still fighting to make sure that other veteran survivors of assault are supported.

    You said about service dogs and PTSD -PTSD is also a physical handicap. – darn right it is.

    Austin

  3. Calvin Says:

    Jay, how do I contact you, my circumstances are similar, I just turned 18 and was assaulted. I have a couple of questions on upgrading my discarge

  4. Calvin Says:

    Jay,
    Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with me. I appreciate the encouragement, will speak with you soon…

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