Archive for January, 2010

veterans parade

January 26, 2010

veterans parade

Originally uploaded by jayfherron

The scene in the photo is from Veterans Day 2009 at a Veterans Day Parade in Seattle Washington.

I have never met any of the people in the photo-veterans…veterans who also suffer the memories of MST through PTSD. I have written to and spoken to one of the banner carriers-the woman on the right. She started a non-profit to help others who are MST survivors,her life dedicated to the needs of survivors.

There is a man in this group-he carries a small sign-my name is on that sign. I have never met him-but he marched in dedication to me. On his head is a cap that identifies him as a Viet Nam veteran. I am proud of him and his service…I wish I could feel the honor of being a combat veteran instead of the dishonor of being a sexually traumatized veteran.

The truth is-I don’t feel like a veteran at all. I feel guilty in a strange way that a man who carried an M-16 in combat carries my name on a placard.

My entire service time was short of seven months. Two of those months I spent in barracks D where only hours into being there I was raped. Barracks D was a detention barracks-I was given a welcome when I got there that said “welcome to barracks D…drugs,drunks,and degenerates”! The man who said that was an older balding female acting person-my first time I had ever seen a man act that way.

I was trying to pee. After being socked on the side of the head I pissed myself-I had needed to pee all the day before,and it was nearly two hours into the next.  My clothes were still wet from my going as my pants were  forced from my legs. I had to wear the damp items while interviewed about why I was there.

I felt there might be an offer of help but the officer that saw me bloody and piss wet only chuckled and shook his head in disbelief-he told me to get used to it. Getting used to it meant  my life from December 31 1969 to February 22 1970 . I did not even know that what had happened to me had a name-rape! I walked back to barracks D knowing it was going to happen more. Nearly two months-almost everyday day.

To this day I cannot escape the specific horrors of barracks D.

These are brave people-those who are marching in this parade. The number of them makes such a small group,but they carry a huge message. They are at the tail end of the parade but in front with the message of many.


January 21, 2010


Originally uploaded by jayfherron

I am not able to write. My past month has been full of crixmix depression and hard harmful damage control, seriously trying to recuperate my thoughts.


January 10, 2010

ice on pond

Originally uploaded by jayfherron

This week coming would be best if it was this week going-gone!

It is such turmoil there is no easy spot to begin-although to make sure that the cold weather is not missed…it is freezing! I am beginning to realize my age and broken body cannot take this lifestyle too much more. I broke my collar bone many years back-it never was repaired and sticks out as if to point out some celestial scene and damned if it does’nt point out the drop in temps too. It is’nt alone! My right thumb was severed in 1997 while I was trucking-I have always regreted that it was sewn back on-and it is’nt alone,my right middle finger (the gesture finger) was crushed in a semi-truck rim…and whenever these digits are cold they throb and throb. It is very painful. I had a stroke in 1998 which goofed up my left hand-I can’t type with but one…my right hand-and now that it is morning and 18 F out on the steps and further on, my left shoudler (from the collar bone) is pounding and my right hand is throbbing numb,my left hand is totally useless.

I have tried to hibernate in a sense…avoiding any entry to outside-to try to heat this palace is a drag-a costly drag on my electric bill,and it still ain’t warm,just tolorable in certain areas. Fawk muh…in certain areas meaning the small hallway between the bedroom and the kitchen-a distance of maybe five feet. The kitchen is the warmest (and most expensive spot) because there is a window unit A/C that puts out heat too…puts it out every crevase and open air places that are still pushing cold air in.

But-Thank You God for at least I am not standing in he open with no where to go.

I even feel guilt to want to complain. My grandson Jared will be going into hospital this week-this stay is anticipated to be four weeks. He is having his third surgery in his little life-not even six months old and my little chap is having open heart surgery. And I am taking time to gripe about the cold-freeze?

But yet…the journalist are coming this week too. The two ladies that are filming a documentery about MST (military sexual trauma) who came earlier in the fall…the weather was less brutal then,and now they are returning to film around the hospital and capture what is going on with little Jared.

There will be nowhere for them to be if they came to visit here-as cold as it is. My living space during these fridgid months is less than a jail cell in this room-and the kitchen offers little yet,the rest of the house is closed off because it is unheatable and very open air.

I did try the woodstove-but it is that open air! Not a passing grade.

So I will visiting these ladies in the confines of Shands-although this time around the need to sit vigal with a little premature tiny baby is different because his mother will be in attendence 24 hours everyday until he is strong enough to come home. The need to be there is not as critical as before. And I am not looking forward to having to be in the building at any length-but it will really be the only comfortable place to be!

If you look at little Jared today you would never believe he once looked like a broiler hen-he was that tiny when born. He is a plump little guy and seems to be growing-he sure is’nt as easy to hold as he was in his first days,I think he is making up for the confinement of the incubater box he started out in.

There is some crazy dream in my head. It started on the river trip I went on last September. There was something about floating along at such a slow pace in the open spaces of the St.Johns River. I sometimes wonder about our cells and genes and how we are made up of the same DNA that passes back through our family chains. What else is passed down other than DNA? What is in my genes and family background that opens up my eyes in recognition of certain things-and places?

There was this feeling of ‘this is home’ while the boat we traveled on skimmed along. The reeds and the canna lilies and the sky and the scene of how it all blended together was so familier and so comfortable-there was nobody for miles…anywhere,and for some reason the solitude was familier too. It was as if my view of what I was seeing was recognized by the view of one of my ancesters-perhaps even my grandmother (who grew up on the Mississipi River in Louisiana). It was as if I had seen it before-and since returning I want to see it more often.

All I know-the peace and quiet of it has been calling at me since this last trip and I am dreaming up the idea that my ‘hut boat’ will open that dream a little more towards reality. You’ll have to learn how to fly to find me.

being a rich man…

January 6, 2010


Originally uploaded by jayfherron

I found this morning being frozen….inspiring me to keep on working towards hooking this old wood stove up for heat!

The temperature here was 21 F.
In my bedroom it was 42-thank goodness the heater in the kitchen kept it that high…it is too dangerous to keep a heater glowing in the bedroom-not enough space and a fire would be for certain.

I have an electric blanket that substitutes for a space heater-over that I throw a huge furniture movers pad,it keeps it warm. It is the sudden jar of the morning that brings back the uncomfortable…but God also shows me what a rich man I am.

I am thankful for the knowledge.

In 1975 when we first came out to these woods-there was nothing. We had an orange pup tent for two adults and two toddlers.

The first few months we lived in that tent-but over the period I managed to carry home enough scrap wood to build a shelter-a room 12′ by 16′ and our first roof was a blue and yellow tarp. And a wood stove for a heater.

It has been 30 some odd years now living out here. Same spot-most of that time-we did begin on the hill up the road with no running water or electric power,we carried water home in jugs-a kerosene lamp was the light. Now instead of a shack with a tarp for a roof is this dilapidated old mobile home-the subject of many attempts for renovation…actually most likely the longest renovation in history. There are still places the wall needs closing in,and the windows in the front still don’t close. There isn’t even a front door knob. There is still a wood stove which I believe is more inspired to be hooked up today more than any project ever has been.

I am so thankful for the way it began out here…poor,no transportation,and not even a house. Campfires made a huge difference-the cabin we built was kept warm enough by the heat of the wood stove but the space to stretch out was limited by the space taken by the wood stove. So an outside fire became just as important and we could stand up or sit down or even lay by the fire to stay warm.

After too many days of this kind of heat you begin to smell like smoke and your hands become covered with soot. There is nowhere to wash up when you have no running water-although we were rich enough to have a barrel to store some water,it was still to cold to really get clean. Feeling oily was a way of life-an embarrassing way of life.

I just came back to the keyboard from making a cup of coffee.  My room has heated up to around 50F- the kitchen is not much warmer. Every water faucet in the house is dripping at a slow flow-this to keep the pipes from freezing up and bursting,usually an annual problem. Glory be that it isn’t like the old days-all the water in a drum.

Right now while I am sitting here-sipping coffee and under a roof,I know there are hundreds of people right this moment fighting to stay warm. They aren’t going to a kitchen to get a cup of coffee to sip on…and are not going to complain that it is no warmer in there than it is in here.

I admit-I am nearing age 60,and doing this chore of plugging up holes and blocking the undersides of doors and fighting to stay warm is getting old like me.Our bodies are already knotted up from age to be trying to tighten them up further by trying to stay warm.

I think of the people who congregate down in the national forest (Ocala National Forest). A society of homeless that call themselves the ‘rainbow family’ (or some such). You begin to see them migrating to the forest in mid-October and they spend the winter going from one campground to another staying ahead of the forestry service rules of camping restricted to two-week intervals. You need to go deep in the woods-and you find them. A very haunting sight. And I wonder to how in the world they make it through nights like last night-and the nights we’ve had all week?

It makes you humble to have had the same type of lifestyle and to understand what it does feel like to work all night to keep a fire going only sleeping in a half doze while sitting up lest you go to sleep and the fire dies.

And I am  thankful God made me so rich.