Archive for June, 2009

Fathers Day 1970

June 21, 2009


Originally uploaded by jayfherron

This is an old story to some, but an always story to me.

Today is Fathers Day. It was 39 years ago today that I came to live in Florida. There was no plan to it-the night before I had no idea I would be standing hundreds of miles from where I was at the moment.

I always maintain that it was angels that took over the operation of my life that night-39 years ago. The day before I had been interrogated by detectives-I fear I was going to jail. I was guilty of being strong-armed into stealing for another employee at a department store we worked at.

It was easy for someone to strong-arm me. I had been taught the lessons of how to avoid pain while in barracks D-there I was strong-armed into doing myriad sickening things.

I know the detectives promised I was going to jail. The only comfort they gave me was to turn in the other man and things would go easier for me.

All I could see was barracks D. Jail would have sealed my fate-I would have been broken more there.

The detectives gave me the weekend to think about it.

I don’t even know how I ended up at the going away party. I did not even know the fellow the party was for-his purpose for being in my life  lasted less than 24 hours. His part was facilitated by the angels.

It was the days of blue highways. Interstate 95 was hardly existent between Richmond and South Carolina so he drove us through what are now called the back roads-once upon a time the real highway.

I can’t even really explain how I got the ride-that is why my only explaination is because of the angels. We reached Jacksonville right after daylight. By this point it had already been explained to me that my driver was picking up some cousins and they were going to a beach camp their family owned-I was not invited,but the offer of a ride further south was offered.

They took me from Jacksonville to Gainesville-from there they cut east towards the beach. They dropped me off at the intersection-the only harbor was a cemetery tucked in behind a tall white wall hidden with ivy and shrubs.

I spent my first day in Florida in a Jewish cemetery-Fathers Day 1970.

I want to explain-I gained nothing by what was stolen back home. Another person recognized that I could be controlled-and that person used me to steal for him. Stealing is not something I wanted to do-I was forced with my arm twisted behind my back to swipe money from cash boxes. I had only three months before been released from duty in the Navy-my last two months were spent in a detention barracks-and there I became a victim and spent nearly all of that time with my arm twisted behind my back and forced to do things I never wanted to do.

The cemetery was a place of peace!

My instinct had me call a man I knew from home-he had been kind to me in the past and some how I knew I could trust him. The phone call was the grace shown by angels-my friend had a brother that lived in a small town near where I was…I had a place to go.

The evening of Fathers Day I saw the sunset standing in that graveyard. Later that night my friends brother came and rescued me. He took me to the town of Micanopy. In the dark it was not easy to see how small the place really was-but coming from Washington DC the day before this town was asleep at 9 PM.

I woke the following day to the sounds of the street in front of the building where I had slept. The peacefulness of the sounds and the smells-and the view of a small quaint town was there waiting.

I met people there that influenced me the rest of my life. Peaceful good people. I know it was angels that led me here.

Today is my day to visit the cemetery. I’ve gone there almost every year-last year I could not gain entry,this year I have the combination for the lock…39 years ago it was open to all-but time has changed everything.

I never want to loose grasp of what happened-and why everything is the way it is. To spend my first day of the beginning of my new life in the graveyard was majestic in its doing-the way the angels arranged that lesson. To awake the following day in the surroundings that greeted me-all of that finely orchestrated in a heavenly way to save me from what could have been if I returned to talk to the detectives.

catching up…

June 13, 2009


Originally uploaded by jayfherron

The past two months have been blank…then I return home to what should have been a time of relaxation did not work out as such-I became fatigued on my return flight from Hawaii. That wore me down where I got sick-and stayed sick and tired for a number of weeks.
Then the computer died-or,perhaps,caught that I was tired and it bogged up. That meant a call to the Dell Indian who vacuumed the thing bone dry removing with it my photographs and certain bookmarks and my will to want to!

I have not lost the motivation to write. I have come to a point where writing my story has got to come to an end somewhere-I said this before…this is not really meant to be about me-although what happened to me is important for others to understand. In basics-the reader just needs to read back and the whole story is there. Also ,what I am saying here seems to have had influence on others-so I don’t want to end it-writing! I would like to transform into hopefully helping other veterans-survivors of MST to approach the long battle to get what is rightfully belongs to them…admission-acknowledgment from the military that you were indeed victimized on their watch.

It would be better to see the attackers convicted. I know that is asking for a little much-but I do feel emotions from having papers saying that MST did occur and that I had no blame in what took place. No blame being because I was in a detention barracks and that I had done nothing to warrant being there.

I’m not an educated person so I don’t have all these powers of a degree and fellowships to give me a boost in becoming an advocate for others. Actually-I’m thankful in some ways that I’m not a degree scholar. I happen to see a hole in the way certain classes of veterans are treated-and perhaps a gap in how a survivor sees themselves as a veteran. I see this from the perspective of a survivor-being a male survivor myself.

What I do see are men in position as advocates-sanctioned by the individual states Veterans Affairs department…uneducated men particularly where the crime of rape and sexual assault is considered.

What I will continue to advocate for is a change in how MST survivors appeal for medical and financial benefits. I will keep shouting the best way I can to hopefully be heard on behalf of change…military sexual trauma -MST (any sexual trauma) is horrific to live with. Sexual attacks change the victim so deeply-fear consumes the survivor.

To send an MST survivor through a process of appealing for compensation where they are required to seek the confidence of a veterans advocate who may not ever understand the details of a rape-is wrong.

The way the system is set up every veteran who has been injured in military service must file the beginning papers for a benefit claim with a Veterans Affairs (BVA) officer in the home county of the veteran. Every veteran! This includes a claim for MST.

For those that do come forward-the veteran who responds to the question of unwanted sexual contact,they most likely would be doing so at a veterans hospital. They rountinely ask the question during a scheduled physical-yet the veteran might find other channels to find a confidential ear.

When the question is answered ‘yes’ there should be an automatic open avenue for the MST survivor to go through. A medical professional should be in place instead of a BVA representative-the MST survivor should be treated with sensitive attention to his or her injury and case.

I was sent to my local BVA representative and he was challenged to confusion as why homosexuals would need to rape each other-he was certain my attackers were blacks…he was nearly dumbfounded when I told him they were not. There were later comments that sounded more like jokes about me. I am angry that someone who suffers from the shame of sexual trauma is subjected to that kind of rudeness and ignorance-and bigotry.

I want to see it different for others. I hope some way comes to lighten up the path to show what trauma this is-and to inspire a change in how MST survivors find healing and hope through a gentler system.