to those who seek help….


Originally uploaded by jayfherron

This is me! I am the male person writing this journal about my journey as a survivor of sexual trauma…in my case it is known as Military Sexual Trauma due to my assaults taking place while enlisted in the US Navy.

This entire catalog of my life was once held private within my soul. I lived nearly 35 years with the details of what had happened in 1969 in silence. Who would ever understand? Who would ever listen to me?

I lived with this alone thinking that no one in life has ever had something done to them like this. It took years for me to understand that it was rape…all the time I was thinking of it as forced humiliation,and at 18 years old I had no understanding of what is was,I just knew it as pain.

Pain like this is different from hitting ones thumb with a hammer. Instead of healing it grows. The name for the scab is ‘post traumatic stress disorder’. I have tried to pick it off with drinking and drug abuse…when able to see the daylight the scab is still there.

This time of year is the worse time for me. My life up until age 18 was in a home were holiday celebration was a time of gentle mystic fantasy and I can remember going way back into my head the dreams of all the kids were as mine with the hope of snow so that Christmas lights would look that much more special glittering in its reflection. The tree coming up after the Thanksgiving meal and lasting til the day after New Years. With my mothers artistic skills the elves and dreams seemed so real. I remember as a wee boy going to a hotel lobby next to the Kanawha River in Charleston and singing Christmas Carols with a group of other kids. It was just like out of a Jimmy Stewart movie! Those memories are there dimly.

 I spent this past weekend in another city visiting a friend. With out thinking of it all in its fullness I went along as my friend needed to get something that was in a mall. It wasn’t so bad as we entered on a Sunday and the mass of the building was open,but the shops had not,so it was fairly vacant. The part I had not thought about was crixmix! The mall had santa’s crixmix center….the center of the mall had a towering crixmix tree. The music of crixmix slowly started after the mall began to fill. Gladly it filled around us instead of having to enter it whilst it was jammed. But then the music started.

It will always be…the trigger.The signs of crixmix will always set it off.

I tried to go home that season in 1969. That was all. I just wanted to surprise my family,no big crime there!

The ship I was stationed on divided the seasons up giving a third of the ship’s crew each a holiday. My holiday was new years. I had never been away from my family at this time of year but remember living it on board the USS Vulcan that year. On Thanksgiving the movie special that evening was ‘Alice’s Restaurant’ (to those who do not know the film is a classic anti-war piece) while we were a land at war. I remember the mess deck dressed up in tinsel at the crixmix time…there was a santa for the kids of dad’s served on the boat who lived on base.

It was a mid-week holiday season. I had the entire weekend of for the new year part. My job on ship also permitted me every night off. Essentially I had a full weekend but a snow storm shut down everything and transportation was included. Although I was stranded I was able to clear my absence with the ship. All was clear.

I will never know the real truth of what happened. My brother arrived,sent by the ship…to arrest me. I was stationed with him,I had asked for that during boot camp. He was my big brother who I hardly knew. I had heard snippets of details but the hard fact is that something was manipulated to put me in a detention barracks and there I was raped.

My attack happened around 0200 on New Years Eve some 22 hours before the 1970 crystal ball was lowered in Manhattan.

I have always struggled around this time of year and always will because of it being a timer on a clock ringing at me each time it passes.  Just like the Arlo Guthrie song sets it off….”you can get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant”!

I recall those days in vivid Technicolor.

So all of this has been repeated over and over in the past pages of my journal. I began writing this out of anger and re-abuse by the veterans disability process. I am just a sand hills dweller,a former trucker…no special person,but a survivor. And entering the process of Disabled Veterans of America assisting me in filing a claim for disability I learned how insensitive the DVA advocates were regarding the injury of sexual trauma. I also began to see the numbers of us that endured this type of pain. I began to realize the re-abuse of those who do not understand the crime of sexual assault,and the re-abuse of the system that should be there to help,but is not willing to do so.

The reason why I am writing these pages today is to seek out those who are afraid to come forward and speak about their own trauma…especially with the fear of not knowing if the one they speak to can be trusted.

I know in my own life that if I suppress the pain long enough it festers and boils and bursts and it makes me do things that I seem to control,but my vision see’s me standing off on the side watching while the festering freaks out. I know if anyone reading this has experienced this trauma from MST you know what I am saying.

Yes,I challenged the system that is supposed to help. Almost 6 years the process took,it was years I could honestly have done with out. I met people in the system along the way that had zero business talking with or knowing about my sexual assaults,and that would be the effect on any survivor.

For 35 years I had lived as a lie to my family,I had to live in silence of what had happened. For 35 years I lived alone with this and then it was revived along a hope I might be taken care of. I locked onto that hope like the jaws of a pit bull on an intruders leg.

The Veterans Administration ought to take a deep look at MST and the survivors. They fail to have a proper view.

I spoke with my attorney yesterday. He telephoned to say that my settled disability is what we sought. I will never be questioned by the VA again,this decision is permanent. I never have to enter the Gainesville VA Hospital again,if I so chose. I never have to be questions again about what happened in the detention  barracks. It is over.

As we talked (my attorney and I) I again heard the voice of a true advocate and the compassion of a man who knows that ‘military sexual trauma’ injures those assaulted permanently. Mr.Hill told me they welcome and encourage MST survivors to come forward and to entrust them with the process of finding justice.

Disability compensation is not going to repair the memory. But I will tell you this,to have one person behind you and acting in your good and who believes in you enough to tackle the giant and to do so with your privacy and sensitivity in mind 100% is such a solid feeling.

If you have been living in silence,you should stop and give your trust to this man. To stand up and battle the past has done something to me. I placed my faith in Mr.Hill for the fulfilment of justice and I was correct in my own judgement. I am so thankful that I did.

If anyone was to ask me how to find hope and help in an MST claim,I fully place my trust in


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3 Responses to “to those who seek help….”

  1. Jerry Says:

    Thank you Jay for sharing your story. I just got back from seeing my VA Psychiatrist who is a very kind and compassionate woman. It seems some people in the VA system don’t realize how quickly things are changing, and I, like you, felt totally alone in this until I started posting online about what happened and the years of abuse afterward in trying to get help. There are thousands of MST survivors all over the country and world and I feel we will have justice in the future. I am giving the VA thirty more days to settle my appeal or I will contact the Attorney you mentioned as we live in the same area. Peace, Jerry

  2. Jerry Says:

    This is a difficult time of the year. Most of my relatives are deceased now and I think of my mother dying from dehydration as they said it was the most humane way for her to go. It took 14 days and for me with PTSD and Panic and Anxiety disorder, it was really bad, but I never left her side, even when I had her moved to the Hospice House after she couldn’t walk any longer. She was only 65. I’m glad were all able to chat on line and I hope everybody has somewhere to go for Thanksgiving. It makes it a little more bearable. Try to reach out to your family members, you’ll be glad you did later down the road. Peace, Jerry

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