Archive for May, 2011

National Cemetery-Bushnell,Florida

May 30, 2011
National Cemetery-Bushnell,Florida by jayfherron
National Cemetery-Bushnell,Florida, a photo by jayfherron on Flickr.

This is what Memorial Day is about!
Not BBQ’s…and not ‘happy’ Memorial Day.
It is about FREEDOM…and the men and woman who have given thier lives so that we can be FREE!
Thank God for the sacrifice that was given for our FREEDOM!


May 13, 2011
one by jayfherron
one, a photo by jayfherron on Flickr.

Everything begins as one.

Today! It is just one day-this day,and if you believe me enough,in reality it is the only day.

I wish it could be truer than the way I am saying it. Oh, it is just one day, but that day has lingered in my head and heart and soul since it began 42 years ago. It is today as it has been all of those days,every day,since then.

I have said this before, I did not know what to do the day I began writing these parts of my life. The day I began writing I had a narrow path in my head thinking that if I wrote these things someone important would see them and a fire would strike beneath them and a change would be the outcome. By someone important I had in my head a person of power in politics that would be disgusted as I was disgusted by the way the VA (Veterans Administration) allowed the process of disability claims (due to post traumatic stress disorder) of those sexually traumatized while serving in the military.

Most of the veterans that have been so mistreated stay silent about the attacks and the subsequent wounds that trail our lives since. Those who decided to come forward to report the attack typically are shut down and told to shut up. Fear keeps the victim in line, especially in the fact their perpetrator is still in the very ranks they serve with; the person the attack was reported to is the commander of both, and this did not happen in his unit.

I thought I was alone all of my life since the beginning of my attacks. I never thought passed myself. Not out of selfishness but out of not realizing that I was not alone. Rape has happened to countless victims. Not wanting to categorize this trauma but need to say there are thousands of veterans yet discovered to be survivors of this type of trauma. Discovered? We know who we are but fear,shame,and guilt has kept us silent. Because of the diverse unknowns this trauma creates we are forced into silence.

Many of the unknowns comes from ignorance! The lack of knowledge that causes those to continue to believe that rape is ‘not as serious as they make it out to be’! Like the veterans representative that was to take the information of my disability claim, his ignorance became an immediate bias. His comments when I told him of my rapes were those of someone who mistaken the crime as something sexual and not harmful. His ignorance was worsened by his inability to keep bigotry out of rape. His assumptions that black men did this made it worse. These things add to reasons why so many choose to remain silent.

Our families don’t even understand. Maybe not out of ignorance, but out of social stigma, or of previous abuses-or trauma in a family where sensitive issues are never discussed. So we hold in a lot of our pain. Many of us abuse ourselves to help.

I have written several times in the recent past that it time to bring these writings to an end. I had exhausted my self through the disability claim process. A lot of anger,which made the fear and the shame and the guilt churn hotter. In the beginning I thought the sympathy would be the catalyst for help. Up until filing I had lived 35 some years with no one knowing directly why I had ended up drinking and doing drugs and quitting job after job and being inconsistent with my life patterns. No one knew,no one cared. I only got blame for my being unable to hold a job-or stay sober. When somebody finally showed a true interest (my therapist at the VA) and the fact of what had happened in 1969-70 revived out of being solely my silence and into the ears of someone who cared. I believed! I believed any person who heard my story would be appalled and would want to see justice. Instead I was confronted with the comments and attempts at jokes from the veterans representative.

I was angry then and I am angry now.

I am angry because it took a lot of energy to go in an office to a person unknown to me and sit down and describe the details of a humiliating act on my body. And I am not the only one!

One! One!

I went across the Atlantic Ocean this past five weeks. I did it for one…me,to close the door behind me and move along. Yes, I did it for many other reasons,yes! I did it  to relive something that had been a link to where my life got stuck…to be a sailor. I did it to feel the Spirit of my soul speak in whispers as only the sounds from the ocean can make. I did it to resume being a boy,and not a man with so many struggles. I confronted the big building paranoia by being in this giant of a ship, and did it without getting drunk. And it was the end of this ‘blog’ that was considered.

But it cannot end. Ahh,the blog could, and it may…because really,I have no more that could be said. I have told my story a millions times around,right here! And made my complaints about the VA and its system of giving a more sensitive path for MST survivors to follow, to be gently led through a disability claim.

When the ship I was on came into American waterways, my cell phone caught a signal and the message alert went off, and it kept going off. The number of messages escapes me, I really did not count. It amazed me the many MST survivors, those who I have come to know through this ‘blog’, who had telephoned me-and still needed me. And part of the reason for the trip was to determine what I am supposed to do next? I seem to have raised awareness on a small-scale and that scale needs to get stronger. The message needs to continue, the power comes from one! Not me…not just me. It comes from each of us who have been dealt this blow. Each one of us have got to show our number one is a many numbers of one!

No one is going to really know unless they truly see the Silent Wounded-each one!

The field is ripe with the fruit that has sown before us. The class action lawsuit Susan Burke filed earlier this year is some of that fruit, and the recent issue of Newsweek displayed an article about MST. The knowledge of this crime is growing.

One can file a disability claim independent of DVA assistance-and one should file if PTSD directly related to MST is evident in your life. One after another if one would file a claim for MST related disability to show the numbers are more than estimated,then maybe a voice can come out of this to speak louder for the survivor.

And,I am going to try to do more!



May 8, 2011

 The attached is hopefully a success-it should be a video!

It has been 9 days since my return from being a passenger on a container ship. I had no idea how blessed I was until I saw the wonders of the sea and the sky and the many freeing moments I was given out on the open seas.

I hope the video works! I have been computer lousy all of my ownership of one-today is no better.

The scene in the video should be of the rough sea. It was beautiful and powerful all at the same time. I had been standing in the bridge of the ship watching the bow plow through the waters and rise up as if it was going to come right out of the water only to plow back in. There was a ship parallel to ours and in the video you can see how we were tossed about.

I told the Captain that it was beautiful and he replied that for captains it is only beautiful once and the rest of the time it is worry. I understood, but the power and strength in the sight of it all was like watching Niagara Falls flow horizontally.

There were so many messages through all of the void that the sky and ocean combined creates. I have spent the past week exhausted from being hypnotised and mesmerized from the awe of it. Trying to adjust to the color of green that coats my area from the fresh Spring leaves and the grasses growing on the side of the road.

I could not imagine the truth that it was and that I was there, for real and for honest-I was there. I know the sea was a place I should have been for a long time. Wonders unimaginable were out there, stars sparkled the sky in a way that no one could guess. The waves with their constant white-caps kept tricking my eyes, but then to replace the trickery came hundreds of dolphins, even thousands, sounding like an audience clapping as the hit the waters.

I took this trip to try to realize what it was that I missed when my military time should have been spent on a ship and not in detention barracks D.

The ship was over 900 feet long and could carry a load of 6000 semi-trailer containers. It was manned with a crew of 21 men. There were only three other passengers, I made number four. We never saw the crew except at meals. In between the ship seemed isolated and I was alone a great portion of my day. I relished the privacy that was a gift to enjoy the Spiritual message too, in quiet and peace.

Spiritually I saw many great evidences that my journey was a part of the right path towards healing from my trauma. The nightmares I had aboard were signs that it will never go away-horrid dreams of prisons. That I wished had not happened, but was frequent. Yet the scene aboard the ship during the quiet hours was in a sense like my working in a funeral home many years back to try to understand death. I cannot understand the trauma and cannot understand why. I would go up on the bridge of the ship and sit in the pilot’s chair, it became my favorite spot to go. In my head I could pretend that things had been different and that I was in charge of the ship. I had the solitude there too. The two men on watch and I hardly spoke, almost as if they knew it was silence and meditation that brought me there.

I had no idea that our return trip had us pass the Naval Station on the James River, the place where barracks D was, and still might stand. I could see the entrance to the base, the exact place where I was handed my discharge papers. Our ship was piloted right past the mooring where the USS Vulcan tied. It was all too surreal. We sat there from dawn until late afternoon and the tugs came and pushed us back out to sea.

It was entering Savannah the next morning the sight we passed coming up the river was a ship passing us going to sea. The ship was named the Viet Nam Express.

I could not believe the strangeness of the spiritual meaning of these two ending curtain calls of this incredible journey. My guilt about not being legitimately wounded in combat was over shadowed by the massive ship going past us at the end of the trip. My emotions were already touchy because attachments to new friends had been made on the 5 week trip, many of the comrades I had come to know had become my friend. Two worlds of language separated us. The six officers were Croatian, and the lower ranking plus the labor crew were Filipino. We knew friendship from our hearts instead of from our words. Our words were confounded from worlds apart. I arrived home that Friday night and wept from the goodness that God had given me in allowing me this trip.