it all stays the same

freeze dress for Florida
Originally uploaded by jayfherron


This is it! The first snap in the low 30’s,already!

It already seems a lifetime but it has only been four weeks since learning my disability for post traumatic stress disorder was elevated to the maximum. I believe to be designated such is a positive moment in many lives of military sexual trauma survivors.

What changed?

I am free of Veterans Administration scrutiny for one. That resulted in almost two weeks of straight exhaustion. Inside me the stress of the entire past five years battle for this disability claim was finally over,the phenomenon of much-needed sleep came over me. Dead sleep! But once the rest was over the erratic returned and the horrible dreams came with  it. Yesterday I had to go to three places in town…the heavy breathing came with the thought of it,the hesitation to go to the truck…the voice telling me not to go kept on and on giving me reasons why I didn’t have to go,except I had to go. That hasn’t changed.

They gave me some money. I have no sense of the money factor…like politicians getting caught with their pants down somewhere,the apology is such bull shit. The money factor is too.

The disability paperwork provides some roadblocks. It is suggested to report to my local VSO (veterans service officer) to receive proper identification to release me from property taxes and vehicle tags. Well…I can’t go there. The same persons that made fun of my claim for sexual assault are still running that office. The person that thought it odd “homosexuals needed a reason to rape each other” (his words) is no longer there,he retired. One of those involved in the “pink marker” joke is. So there is still more to battle for MST suffering veterans.

I am also given free dental care at the VA. I feel I will never again go into the VA finding more outside medical care and more health care through that.

I am afraid to go to our local VA hospital.

So,it all stays the same. I am just glad the ordeal is over. But the truth is that it all stays the same. I still am waking to taking my inventory,what I am and where I am. I still feel the restlessness of my dreams,and will never ever lose the triggers of what happens in the bathroom to me…each and everyday! They are there as living as the cockroach on my bathroom wall. I will never lose the memory of barracks D. The crixmix crap is out in stores and I will never forget what that means to me. It will get worse before that part goes away. The triggers get stronger and stronger as crixmix closes in and the exhortations of crixmix being merry spews from just about everywhere.

To those who do not understand…it was Christmas 1969 which was my first being away from my family. I was on board the USS Vulcan and the size of the crew made it necessary to divide up the holiday season into three groups. My group was free to spend New Years with our family. I was wanting to surprise them and tried to make a fast round trip to get one more night home. A snow storm screwed that idea up. Something else screwed up the rest of it. What that was I will really never know…but I was charged with something criminal and although innocent I was taken to detention barracks D. There I was raped. 18 years old and 120 pounds spending new years eve being beaten up and raped.

!merry crixmix!

Most of what made the reason for my detention has been concluded that my brother was jealous of me…I had asked to be stationed with him as he had left to join the Navy when I was just a kid,we really never knew each other. When I came aboard ship I was given some aptitude tests that rank high on the scores. I was offered a chance to take a GED to finish high school and was offered a chance to re-enlist for an additional 6 years and the Navy was going to send me to college and I was going to come back a junior officer. My brother was jealous. I never realized until now when after the years living with this alone a therapist gets involved.

I never forget that time.  Every step I live seems result of then.

People talk about finding closure. I can’t say what that really is,or if it can happen. I went a few years back and saw my baby brothers grave,and still could the car running over his five-year old body…he’s still dead,laying in his casket in his red coat my mother had made. I’m not sure what closure is. I have a ration of thoughts and doings that are irrational perhaps for a man my age,but I am doing things that seem more like that of a kid than mature. A therapist had told me once that am stuck as a boy because of the trauma of the rapes and my age,especially my age in my mind then,was disturbed and I keep clinging to the gentle simple life I had as a boy before the rapes had happened. I do things with no explanation of common sense…such as ordering toys for myself to put up on a shelf,for me.

I wanted to live on the USS Vulcan for the rest of my life! When the taxi dropped me at her pier that first morning my 18-year-old eyes saw all the lights and how they illuminated the size of the ship I knew this was the life I wanted.

Two months,that was all. We went out to sea once and broke down having to steer towards Guantanamo Bay. All of it was a thrill. We later set off to Montego Bay. God sees the thrill it puts in my heart right now.

I hope to relive that for a longer period. I am proceeding to book as a passenger on a long-term freighter cruise. Not a frills cruise…Dizney kind of booze and gamble and check out the mouth breathers kind of cruise…a limited to a handful of passengers (the brochure says usually five to ten) on a real working freighter ship,cruise. Except…I’m just going to see the sea and sit and allow Gods Spirit to speak to me through it all. Perhaps write a book about all of this…the length of the cruise is 228 days.

For the curious…the trip begins in Long Beach,California and goes down the Pacific coast all along South America. Each port call lasts two to three days,ample enough time to see sights on shore. The trip continues around to the Atlantic and goes to the African coast,and eventually it all ends in Asia. All of this has touched a place in my heart that draws me to it.

Mind you…this is not a deal where you sleep in a bunk bed and shower with the rest of the crew. No,there are individual staterooms with private bath. International law requires english be spoken on all of this type ship. There is in room service. Just no party’s. One is free to roam the ship!

Maybe it could be closure. Who knows? All I know is it becomes a freedom!


6 Responses to “it all stays the same”

  1. Jerry Says:

    Yes, it is freezing over here too…

  2. Linda Fehrs Says:

    Your experience with the military and the VA is/was terrible. My own experience was much different. Although it took almost 30 years, the VA has actually been very supportive. ( I only came into the system 10 years ago)This may be due to the differences between facilities. The Hudson Valley VA takes male rape very seriously and indeed dealt with it better than female rape until recently. There is help out there, finding it is the hard part. Hang in there!

    • jayherron Says:

      Yes,I understand that there are VA hospitals in the system that DO care. I believe ours is in a ‘proud zone’…being connected to the largest university medical center in Florida. Indeed,there are good folks out there everywhere,some not. Thank you for reading and commenting.

  3. Jerry Says:

    I just read the post about your trip. That sounds like a good idea since the life you dreamed of in your youth on the Vulcan didn’t happen. Trauma does rob us of having a normal life and most people can’t understand why were stuck. Panic, fear and anxiety are part of our lives and accepting it is about the only thing we can do. To all of my fellow Veterans, I salute you and hope you find closure and acknowledgement from the VA that your suffrage is real and needs to be addressed and settled to give you some peace and comfort.

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