on the wire

Originally uploaded by jayfherron


Now the countdown begins. Already my anxiety has kicked in-it began the moment PayPal accepted my payment for the airplane tickets. I am so stressed from thinking about it-Washington DC…and the buildings and the fear of  public restrooms-the worse.

I have these past postings place my personal address and email contact-I am wanting for MST survivors to write in their own words what this life is like for them-being assaulted,most likely being told to get used to it (like I was told) and the troubles with stigma and more so-the troubles with the VA (Veterans Administration) and the disabilty-claim process…especialy with how the process is set up for the veteran to proceed.

Last week I received a contact-from a reader…but I sense the writer has only read snippets of what I have been saying over the years. The writer expressed disappointment seeming that I am only about male MST survivors…which is incorrect.

My journey to Washington DC has been inspired by a young veteran who I have never met-except by telephone conversations. This young veteran was raped while serving boot camp-this young veteran read a post I wrote in 2008 regarding the arrest of an ROTC instructor in Sarasota Florida. This man was arrested for the rape of a student in his charge-an ROTC recruit. My young veteran was raped by the ROTC instructor during boot camp-the rapist was this veterans drill instructor!

There are too many sexual assault cases where ROTC instructors have stepped out-of-bounds.

My fellow veteran and I began our conversations several weeks ago-his calls to me encouraged me to take this trip.

I began writing this journal because the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs officer who took my statement as a rape survivor…a ‘military sexual trauma’ survivor (MST) looked at me in total amazement and said “Gee…you never think homosexuals have a need to rape each other”- and he could not get over the fact that he was wrong to assume the men who raped were not black men. I became disgusted then.

I became more disgusted learning about the ROTC arrests-do a GOOGLE search and learn for yourselves…the numbers in 2008 alone were staggering.

I suffer from PTSD directly resulting MST. My life has been affected by this-my family has been affected…I am a troubled person-as my anxiety shows,and it is directly connected to the rapes. I was a kid then-and I think about it…I was not much older than the ROTC students assaulted by the instructors. Who helps these kids? The Veterans Administration has nothing for them…after all,they are only prepping to be leaders-but are civilians otherwise!

My journey to Washington DC has come. In one more week I WILL be sharing thoughts about how the VA disability claim process must be changed for the ease of MST survivors to appeal for VA benefits. There must be an end to require MST veterans to appeal at the local DVA…and being heard by n advocate that has no understanding about MST-o being a survivor. No more having to report to those who are unable to grasp-sexual assault is not fun.

We also intend to present the need to change legislation for ROTC recruits. Some VA rights should cover these young students…most especially if there is an MST case involved.

We? The young veteran who read my piece about Lt.Busby-the ROTC rapist,and began to agree with me…who helps these students? Included in our small group will be two photo-journalist (they have been covering my story and the stories of 11 other MST survivors) who are independantly working on a documentary about MST.

We? We are scheduled to meet two Senators-Specter and Lieberman…as I said the other day-it will be believed fully when I witness this myself,but-I have faith.

Why? Because it is time the men and woman who serve our country and met with the dishonor of MST deserve the freedom to be able to come forward and appeal for a disability as freely as a legitimately injured soldier with out concern the VA advocate will not be making bigoted remarks.

And-what else? To express deep concern for he ROTC-MST survivors. We need to see they receive help too.

Man or Woman-if you served in the United State Armed Forces-you are a veteran.

Man or Woman-if you have suffered as result of MST -we are going to Washington DC for you!!

I had hoped for more response to my ‘write and say it in your own words’ campaign! The need to express your thoughts regarding your being a survivor-the need is so important.

Please write-please permit me to hand deliver your words to hope we can make a change!


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One Response to “on the wire”

  1. Jamey Michael Harding Says:

    Jay I know I disappointed you on Monday, it was rough on all of us. I don’t regret having met you in person and guess what buddy. Wednesday I woke up and went by myself to the Russell Building after my appointment with Senator Lieberman and canvassed as many offices, Senator’s and staff as humanly possible a total of 35, groups of people listed to my reiteration of my personal MST story, I vaguely mentioned that you had greater personal stories from others than I and I would like you to reconsider our association. Jay I cannot say this enough…this IS NOT about ME, simply put I know my story best and through the help of you, Lynn, Annie, Detective Riffe, and many of my therapists over the years. I have finally reached the pressure release valve of wanting to seize every opportunity to get word of this out there. We disagree on my belief of the need for shock and awe. The next three days we busted our asses and got better at it as we went. Long story short we lobbied with Human Right’s Campaign and Servicemembers United eventhough that was not the plan and I spoke about MST the entire time eventhough those two group explicitly instructed me not to. I met Senator Levin in person and we went to the Senate Armed Services Committe Offices where I was provided additional information and an hour long conversation with a female full bird colonel who knew very little of male on male and female on female MST Surviviors. It was nothing but cooperation and progress. I called Lynn and left her a message asking her to speak to you. To be honest I am a litltle fragile at the moment and don’t feel comfortable in calling you only to be chewed out. Purely by accident I have keywords highlighted to trigger alerts to my email one of course is military sexual trauma. I found a website created by two Congressmen and Thursday May 20th at 10 in the Cannon Building A Joint Committee on Veteran Affairs is taking testimony on yep ya guessed it Military Sexual Trauma and care provided by the VA. I called and left a message with one got no response, I called on of the three Chairmen and he immediately put me on with a female major liaison whom also is a Military Sexual Trauma Survivor herself! I am sending her everything I have and told her I would ask your permission and for you to procure from the other letter writers explicit permission not to discuss them but to hand them to the Chairman when I am done speaking as a witness as additional facts to lend support on of the things they all pretty much said to me was that it was unique that I as a male was coming forward with this issue as the vast number of people testifying are women. Therefore they feel my story even more important because it occured 20 years ago and with the spark only recently igniting after reading about SFC Busby in your blog and his arrest, they are even more anxious to meet and get results in dealing with this. So please regardless of our differences can we work together on getting these other individual’s testimony to the Committee’s as well? I’ve already booked the hotel and Chris picks up his new car tomorrow. I get a mere 5 minutes to speak I hope I can keep from crying but I can leave a zerox box full of paperwork to be amended to my testimony for review. Let me know as soon as humanly possible if the others are okay with this. Thanks with love and respect Jamey

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