legal matters!


Originally uploaded by jayfherron

Give me a few minutes,I need to explain something!

Over the span of five years that I began to write this ‘blog journal’ I have begun email (and at times telephone) contact with an amazing number of MST survivors…most saying that the problems and fears and lifestyle I have lived through mirror the same experiences in their lives.

I notice it! Myself in each of those I have spoken to,and in the many emails…I hear myself!

Yes,the persons are different. The pain is not.

This blog began (oh gosh…he’s going to tell it again) because I am a ‘military sexual trauma’ (MST) survivor. The survivor part is that the men that attacked me 40 years ago did not finish the job,they killed almost everything…they just forgot to kill me!

After many years of holding it in to myself I began treatment for PTSD related to my MST experience. My treatment was at the veterans hospital near my home.

Sometime after a year or there about it was recommended that I go forward to a VSO or DVA office and file for a disability claim.

It was there that for the first time in my life I sat in front of a strange man (strange in that he was a stranger to me) and I told the story of what happened in the new year of 1970 at place called ‘barracks D’.

The strange man was a ‘veterans service officer’ employed by the county that I live in. Levy County is not what you would call “uptown”…instead,this is the peanut growers rural world.

I told this man about how I was beaten and raped. I am a male.

The VSO officer made a comment that alarmed me! A few weeks later there were jokes! The comment and the jokes connected that I being a man and that men raped me made all of this more like homosexual behavior and not someone beating me up and ripping my pants from my body or the pain of having things forced into a place those things do not go. The actual comment from the VSO officer was “gee…you never think homosexuals have a need to rape each other”!  He was dead serious.

I realized then that there was going to be as much justice now as there was in 1970…which totals zero. This time I knew enough to become angry!

I once had sworn long ago to never have a computer in my home. I studied the computer as an item of threat and therefore not one screen was ever coming in this place!

I declined my own thinking to find a way to expose what I feel is a wrong!

The only way I could find a way to reach (in my head) thousands at one time and to hope out of the numbers others would come forward and say that they too have been wronged,and then others would come and say “this is a way to find help” and join in to change the problem that MST survivors must go through just to find help.

When the VSO officer made the comments it said to me that this was not a person sincere enough to help me. Lacking understanding and sensitivity regarding how any MST survivor may feel,this person had no business considering himself an advocate for any veteran like us! I began to research as to what kind of background the typical VSO officer is required to have. It alarmed me to realize that the majority of the numbers have little to any basic requirements,high school sometimes,college sometimes,sometimes military backgrounds,but through the system from New York State to California the job requirements varied,but notably…none had any mention of ‘sexual trauma’ training.

I hired an attorney! The attorney saw me through my first filing of a disability for PTSD. We saw a judge together. The judge found in my favor. The VA (Veterans Administration) later notifies me that my case was disqualified due to that my attorney was not approved and registered with the VA.

All of these things have made me angry! Much because for nearly 30 some odd years I lived with my pain and self-abuse alone and with no outside interests until I happen to mention it at the VA hospital…to validate this I was encouraged to file for a disability. And then I am joked at…and then I am told my choice of advocacy and defense was not good enough to stand by my side and defend me!?

By this time I have come to fully understand the size of this problem! The numbers of MST survivors and sexual trauma survivors from any crime scenario in any walk of life,the numbers are tragically high.

And I have become contact and friend and brother to many MST veterans. I never expected to be a guide…I just wanted to hope that someone important would read this and say “my gosh…this is wrong” and change it so others would not have to hear jokes and bigotry at their expense. I am blessed by every one of those who write to me and pray for me and encourage me….all the while they too are among the ranks of the SILENT WOUNDED! And hurt too!

I am just this kid! I am 18 years old and stuck there in a 59-year-old mans body. I am not an educated person,there is no background that has any training either. One of John Prines’ passages says “other people have forced him to live in his head” ,and thus I am troubled the same way. My life went into a stall back then and I am stuck.

I bought this old farm tractor mostly to give my grandkids rides. One by one each of them sat on the little stool seat in front of me and their little tiny hands each working the steering wheel as the thing chugged along. I put my hands over top of theirs just to feel them and think of the innocence of their tiny lives and wish we could just stop the moment in time and that they will always feel protected.

That is how I feel when people like Joan of Arc or Jerry or LT and others write in and say their peace.

I am honored,and I am blessed,and I am sorrowful for the hurt you all have,and it is so interesting what this has become.

All of that said is just because I need to say this! I am just this kid that signed up to do what he was taught was right,to defend the Constitution of the United States…in that I learned much of what the Bible says without benefit of reading it. Brothers turn against brothers. I was hurt in the most indescribable way in more ways than just the physical pain of rape. I have hated that period of my life ever since. I hate it that others have experienced the same pain. I hate it that we are kept silent. I just want someone to know that this has got to change.

And…my writing of my experience and my life is to say “here is someone else”!

I took those words of the VSO officer and locked on like a pit bull to a mail carriers behind…the fact that my life had been so ruined by the event in barracks D and the hint of help 35 years later turns sour,I was not going to let go. For 35 years my silence belonged to me and I was forced to live in my head. Not anymore,not a second time around.

All the time I am asked for advice about MST matters and the VA.

I feel like this,if it is only this one time that justice may be yours then don’t mess around with it and try to go it yourself. FIGHT this correctly and FIGHT IT for you AND the others who are yet in silence. Find an attorney that will hold this accountable to the VA. Because once it is done it is finished. I have lived this life with an adverse feeling towards the system and hated anything connected with it…because the system began letting me down all those years ago. I don’t trust it and disconnect in any time I am confronted with it. It is detrimental as there are occasions when you have to. But then there are times when you need to operate inside the system. Find an attorney that knows how to find his way around it!

I am not a lawyer! I am just a survivor…and by some great miracle was able to able to find justice after all these years.

I want in my heart to see every MST survivor find justice. And peace…

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2 Responses to “legal matters!”

  1. Jerry Says:

    The parallels in our lives. The same thing happened to me. It was 1994 and I went to the VA for help after finally realizing if I didn’t deal with this issue, it would kill me, ever so slowly and painfully. I had been talking about already with a civilian counselor, but the thought of dealing with military had me in a tailspin. So, I did it. I recieved treatment at a VA hospital and then was assigned a counselor and psychiatrist. after two years of counseling, they suggested that I speak to AMVETS about filing a claim. The same thing happened, the guy laughed at me and made fun of me. He assumed that this was the accepted tortue of a soldier with no recourse. So, I continued on with my treatment and even the counselor was the same way. My medical records were filed by birthdate and I noticed he had the day and month of my birth mixed up and pointed it out, he laughed and said, oh, it will just make it harder for them to find your files. So, another two years passed, we had my hearing with the guy from AMVETS supposedly helping me and it was denied. I couldn’t take the abuse anymore and so I suffered in silence for another ten years and decided, this time, I’m going to do whatever it takes to get some closure with this or drop dead from a heart attack. The advocate who was supposed to be helping me now turned out to be like the guy from AMVETS,but one good thing happened, I typed in the persons name on Google to look for a web address and found Jay’s name. then I found his Blog site. I felt totally alone before this and didn’t know there were thousands of us reaching out online. This has helped me more than anything. Being able to talk with others who have been through the same thing. I am hiring a private attorney also who is accredited in Veterans laws and benefits. Instead of fighting with the VA, I hope we can work with them in the future. We are dealing with a very painful and difficult issue. I wonder how many people drank themselves to death or commited suicide because they felt so alone. Thank you all for posting about this. It’s the only way we can try to cope with it and survive. Peace and God Bless, Jerry

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