some suggestions…lay statements!


owl
Originally uploaded by jayfherron

 

I have had more contact with MST (military sexual trauma) veterans through this journal’s span asking how they could prove they had been criminally assaulted when they have no direct witness’s or evidence to prove their claim. You might be wrong.

I want to be sure you understand that the things I write here should be verified independently,I am not a legal advisor…I am just telling you what I have learned along the way of my own experience.

Each of us have an individual experience in our lives,nothing is the same,except many things have similar foundations. I happened to write about what had happened to me in barracks D when I was 19 or 20 years old. The experience was as fresh as it could ever be then.

My neice (the young lady often comments calling herself BJ) had read this manuscript on a visit when she was just a college student at a school in South Florida.

Her mother was my brothers wife…she was with my brother during the trip from the ship to my family home in the DC area. There was once a dispute from the VA saying the detention barracks I was put in,where the rapes happened,never existed. BJ’s mother was able to validate that such a place did exist and that I was there.

These two woman became what is refered to in the disability claim evidence as ‘lay statements’!

BJ visited here five years back and just a coincidence (no I do not think so,more Spiritually arranged is my belief) that the process of filing my claim for ‘ptsd’ disability was just beginning.

BJ was able to appear at the VSO (veterans service officer) office and explain that she had read the book I had written…thus a testimony from a ‘lay witness’ ,or someone who was aware the events happened and thus aware for a long length of my life. Meaning,my discussing my assaults was known to from a long time back,and not something new.

BJ also currently serves in the USAF and has extensive experience reading military records. Reading mine she noted so many errors in typing (this was pre-computer days when I served) that actually made no sense and showed more fault on the military’s behalf that led to my being the truthful one in this case.

Reading every page of your military records (use a yellow highlighter pen) can prove to be interesting and may even serve as proof in your favor.

The one thing I know about truth is it is the easiest to remember. Truth cannot ever backfire,except in some cases like telling a friend they have bad breath or something…sometimes that doesn’t go over very well,but the truth of your life and what has happened is so valuable to protect and defend.

Never sway from the real facts to embellish things to make them sound or look worse.

I was equally worried when the VSO officer wrote something on my initial papers when I first filed for VA disability. I have access to the world news but I hear it on the radio or read it in the newspapers but I do not have cable or any source of commercial television attached to my house. I have lived television FREE for almost 13 years…I even have said so on national television…”I do not watch TV”…and the VSO officer wrote it on his papers that something I saw on television triggered my PTSD and that is why I was appealing for a disability claim.

I was NOT TRUE!

He said it sounded better!

I did not care….it was not true.

After the visits ended with this man I was introduced to a VSO officer at the VA hospital. He too wrote a statement that was in a degree a portion of what might have happened,but it was not a fact. My therapist telephoned him and asked and he told her it sounded better. It did not sound better to me,and how is one supposed to remember something like that?

The point is that to take sexual trauma and mingle up the facts with enhanced wording to appeal more to a reader somewhere is defamatory to what has happened to the victim/survivor. Our truth,our lives,and our experience of trauma deserves the respect of truth.

I found an attorney.

But…the fact is that one or the other of us have a likely no chance of finding any witness to the actual rapes. So the VA allows ‘lay statements’ as evidence. These can come in the way of letters written by family or friends or maybe an  employer or former teacher. Anyone who can attest to the notable changes in your life before you enlisted and afterwards when you returned. Anyone that can say “my friend was a clean-cut good soul but when they came back you could see something was wrong”….something like that,something not coached…something from the writers own perspective of you. The writer never needs to know if you had been raped,it would be better for an actual statement that the veteran has told this friend or family…but just the same,an honest statement that a person who knows you well knows that there is a dramatic change.

Also,any record from past visits to therapist or social worker…I’d say minister but the one I told about being a rape survivor told me Christ forgave me….forgave me?? for what?? This kind of person would not be my choice to write a lay statement.

The truth is always foremost in this.

I would suggest if it is possible for you to get lay statements to have the writer keep it to two pages and to be certain they understand their own natural thought is what you want them to say.

These statements can be submitted as evidence.

I hope some of this is helpful. Like in my life,there were some people actually able to tell the truth…it is all hard to grasp in my heart that they were able to do so. I am hopeful each survivor can look back and discover there is someone there too!

Peace

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3 Responses to “some suggestions…lay statements!”

  1. Di Says:

    Yes you have so much more sharing to post 🙂 And OMG I remember that owl!

  2. BJ Says:

    Hmmm…. Christ forgave you for being raped. Wow. I had no idea Christ was in the business of forgiving you when you hadn’t done the crime. Yeah, I know about “embellisments”. I used to review performance reports and decorations. When I saw someone given credit for someone else’s work, I said something. My boss put in my EPR that I ‘taught’ people to roller skate. I told him that was not true–I volunteered at the skating rink and would help them, but I did not teach them. He told me he put that in to make my EPR sound better. Aye yi yi. The sad thing is, you can have stellar performers, but the competition is tough and your decorations and high marks are based on whose supervisor writes the best packages. It also means there are folks who can’t even do their jobs getting all kinds of awards while those of us who do the work get little to no recognition. Yes, I have a bunch of ribbons, but only 3 of them are worth anything. The others are for campaigns, serving in deployed locations, being overseas, with MAJCOM and numbered organisations, etc.. My ribbon rack my look impressive, but the only ribbons we care for are those that help us with promotion points. My Uncle is correct on one thing: make sure you read EVERYTHING, compare, contrast, even check for spelling and grammar errors (spelling and grammar are my strong points). If your spelling and grammar are poor, find someone who is strong in that area. One ‘word choice error’ (accept vs except, effect vs affect, etc) can make a world of difference. As to finding “witnesses”, be mindful some folks who may have witnessed it fall into various areas. 1., The offender–that person may have been punished and not willing to revisit the event. 2. Standers-by – Who may have tried to help or stood by in shock and horror unable to help. These folks may also not be willing to revisit the event. Oddly, it can be almost as difficult for these as it is for the victims. These folks often live with nightmares, also as well as feelings of guilt. 3. Those in leadership under whose noses it happened. These are folks who worked their way up and are not willing to lose it all. 4. The deceased. Unfortunately, some key people in these events may have passed away, taking possible ‘testimonies’ to their graves. If you still serve in the military (as I still do), make sure and check your records periodically and ensure everything is correct. One more thing: if you go out with your buddies drinking, never set your drinks down on the table/counter. Always keep them in your hands and in your sights. Setting down drinks allows for ‘rape’ drugs to be put in them, which is how some military rapes take place. By the way, it wasn’t the book that made me aware of the rapes. It was my Mum telling me about it when I was about 16 or 17, so I’ve known for a very long time. Barracks D, from what I hear, is now called “Nimitz Hall”. Just because the VA can’t “find” it doesn’t mean it never existed. Buildings get demolished, places change, etc.. My ancestral homeland of Prussia no longer exists, but it was once a great Kingdom in Central Europe. Anyway, the sooner you find glitches and errors, the better. If you have a valid claim, make it when you can subpoena witnesses and prosecute the guilty. Yes, it will mean reliving the event over and over, but it is so much better to do it when you have the witnesses, the offenders, and documention all lined up than to wait till it’s harder to get. It was much harder in years gone by. Now, sexual assualt and trauma are taken more seriously and dealt with more harshly.

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