Waikiki by jayfherron
Waikiki, a photo by jayfherron on Flickr.

April is National Rape and Sexual Assault Awareness month!

I feel in some ways like a fellow that offers some folks a ride to California from Florida and mid way across the country I stop and tell everyone I don’t feel like going the rest of the way!

I began something a few years back-and intend to finish to the best that I can…a this is to at least make one change in how the VA responds to MST vet’s!
NO MORE DVA or VSO officers taking the helm to file for disability for the MST veteran!

I have written this ‘blog’ so far and tried to quit…thus the analogy of the ride to California!
So…to press (wordpress) on:

It is wrong for an institution as huge as the Veterans Administration to not be able to see a flaw in thier process.
It makes no sense to send a sexual trauma survivor to a fellow or female who have absolutly zero training or education in how deep this trauma effects the individual.

The DVA and VSO persons do a great service to the veteran who has legitimate service related injurys, but we who are MST survivors do not feel one moment of ‘legitimate’ in how we were injured!
I believe any one of us would accept a combat related injury-agast that we suffer the way that we do, to me-even ashamed by the way I served, and find no peace in saying I am a disabled veteran-knowing why!

I wish there was an easy way to explain our lives and what it is like to live in the wake of what had happened and to suffer with the post traumatic disease in our daily life.
I am going to try on April 18 at a ‘survivors art exhibit’ in front of a microphone-in front of a crowd!
I am not sure what that will result in-I tend to blank something like that out-but I know the anger pent up inside of me about how long I have been attacked over and over again in my relentless PTSD inner digger of the sore that festers on and on for over 40 years-now-and does not quit!
….back to what I was actually trying to say, I also have recieved a letter from the Alachua County Commision acception my application to return to the ‘rape and sexual assault advisory committee (they call it a council-or a board?) and I suppose much of the purpose of the committee is fund raising idea’s-all of which I understand, but don’t fit in much with…I am there to say if “we as an advisory board” are supposed to suggest to our County Commission idea’s for improvement; then-let us improve the lives of a group of our veterans-members of the ‘silent wounded’-who deserve a sense of justice has been met for them.
I admit-even as been classified 100% disabled-I am still and will always feel the unjust parts of what happened to me in 1969-and how it happened!
So-I hope to sponser the right to show the film ‘The Invisable War” to this committee (hopefully to the public) to affirm the depth of the issue of MST, and by the numbers of veterans involved it is likely there are more in our own County and region (as we have a regional VA medical center in the city).
I encouraged to hear from one of the sources I know at the ‘victims services center’ which would be a recipient of the advisory committee advices that there is more information coming through thier offices regarding military sexual trauma!

You might understand, speaking of sexual trauma and combine the word military with it and some people will kind of recoil about that as “not in my mans Army”.
We MST vets know what I am saying!
My hope is that our voice is getting louder and louder!
The recent case at Lakeland AFB in Texas-has been current news; as is the General who cut the conviction for a convicted rapist in his branch of military-but had no immediate connection with the criminal-he merely dropped his conviction.
These events and the crimes are becoming more heard of then in any time I can remember in my few years of reading and writing for this cause.
Before I ever heard the words ‘military sexual trauma’ I had thought that I was the only one this ever happened to.

And-so from what I understand-and I hope if it comes to be that the writer feels the depth of the pain and misery from being what is softly called a ‘survivor’ of an inter personal trauma that is disgustingly refered to or thought of as a sexual act!
An article is in the work of a writer from the Gainesville Sun newspaper-I hope an article that touches on the severe need to recognize and reach out to male trauma victim / survivors and devote some paragraphs to educate the need to remove gender and social level and age and the term ‘sexual’ from how the people percieve this crime-it must be changed!
Rape is violent and will never be gentle.

There is-however-a strong hint that the article will be about me.
I am also okay with this-to put an aged face on the topic of MST, which is where I believe the article is going…especially the extent that I have a very low impression of the VA medical system-especially where it comes to health care for us-the MST vet!

I described in detail how poor a place the VA sits in my determination-to have the VA suggest that the only way to validate myself from the tragic past was to file for a disability-which the VA said I deserved…then-the VA spends five? six? years fighting me and calling me a malingerer (I am not sure what that is-or how to spell it).
I really had no motive-nor ever thought of a disability,never-it was the VA therapist who I had been assigned that told me to do so…for healing-and empowerement-and validation, was how I remember it described!
It was nearly the trauma-it was maybe equal as the pressure and anxiety was miserable, so was the constant over and over of telling the details to prove I had been a victim-raped in the US Navy detention barracks D where it all was NOT SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN!

I was finally classified as 100% permanantly disabled from MST related direct PTSD.
Like with my ‘honorable discharge’ I feel no honor, and feel no validation…I do feel stronger for fighting the battle-and they admit it happened, but-the rest?

There was never NEVER a punishment for those who hurt me! And-it is me who has to continue to defend my truth!

It is my hope that the writer of this article ‘gets it right’ and hears the voices of the ‘silent wounded’ and tells that story too! It is not just me-or about me…it is about the need to expose this crime and quit hiding MST-its facts-its damages-and its survivors!
We ARE veterans-too!

15 Responses to “April”

  1. John MacDonald Says:

    I was raped by my DI in basic .Fort Ord 1959.The VA says proof? I reported it to the Sargent on duty the night of my return from the 6th week break. Told bad things can happen in basic ,keep your mouth shut. Went to school 6 weeks . then service company. Once again I spoke up and was on orders to Germany within 2 weeks. I was 17. Against military policy , No out of Continental US or territories under 18 years of age. I was 17 and 8 months. They shiped out the problem .I had a new room mate after a year in Germany 1 year later . I had gone to bed . My room mate came in and got in my cot .I awoke to someone rubbing my back. My reaction was violent. The anger all went his way. I was called into the Captains office .I told Him what had happened in basic. The fight was really bad . Artical 15 I became angered again. I was sent to some Psyc doctor. I told him about it..He said You only have a little over a year left, and they want to put you out on a 209. Can’t adjust,.really? I was transferred once again to another company.I returned home in 1961 and got married. I am still married to Her 51 years later. She has saved my life. I broke down in 1997 after more than 50 jobs in 45 years and went to American Lake.My fight is not over. I go in front of a board from DC on video April 17th.2013. No records from any company I was with .My father killed my mother than Himself in front of Me at age 6. He was under the care of the VA at Sawtell in LA at the time. They tell Me that I had it when I came in the Army. I have lived with this . and have been close to suicide more than once. I am preparing now for April 17th.

    • Ron blankinship Says:

      John my name is Ron I went through basic at fort ord too and ait at ft Gordon GA where I was raped.I was afraid ashamed and scared I was afraid to tell anyone that was April 75 he was an nco e5 I didn’t tell anyone until like a year ago I just told my daughters.earlier this week I’ve been with so many different woman over 70 I don’t know but I’m sure it was.in response too the crime that was inflected on me hell of a thing I too have many jobs I’m married now for 18 years and I tell her until 8 months or so ago I appreciate your comments you really can help with your story thank you

  2. AC Says:

    I am not exactly sure what I want to say to you Jay, or how to. I’ve been reading your story. In fact, I have been listening to the pain of countless vets for about 25 years.. started briefly in the 70’s for 6 months but back then I couldn’t stay because the general (mis)treatment for them was more than I could stand.. Went back in 91′. It was different. The vets seemed different, they were more satisfied with their care.. maybe more receptive.. the care had gotten better, slowly..the services offered were more appropriate. Believe me, I do not have lots of letters after my name. My education has come soley from listening to these men. Now, the VietNam Vet is finally coming for care. And, finally they are talking. Many are bitter, Lots of substance abuse. Many have come to terms with their military experience.. good, bad, tragic.. many still can’t. Still 18..
    I have always hated war.. (government).. hated what it did to men. I find it pointless, corrupt, barbaric, Still, many of these men enlisted or were drafted.. For one reason or another they ‘joined up’… like you. Babies! Now coming to me loaded with the effects of Agent Orange.. I asked one guy, a long-hair, what was the point of it all.. He said that it was the VietNam Veterans, their trials and suffering, that has made it better for the vets returning now. Somehow for me, it helped to hear him say that.
    But frankly Jay, I don’t know what would give you some satisfaction or peace.. what do you think should happen? What can make your personal hell better? Aside from doing all that you are doing, what brings joy to Jay? You have to live your life and I wish for you a long life with happiness to replace your pain.

    • jayherron Says:

      ….interesting, I too am a 62 year old 18 year old! VERY stuck! Joy is knowing one great day this shit life will be over and I will join my God, who is my friend-my only friend! I believe this very much! btw…not the ‘church’ God; the REAL God!

      I enlisted in 1969 to defend my country-and found my country was not going to defend me! Very hard to take! Peace

      • AC Says:

        Well, you did the right thing… your country did not! You have a heart.. Your country is run by a bunch of idiots, the ones who headed to Canada.. the ones who say they served their country but were deferred time and time again to play in their safe sandbox.. They are not really people, they are robots.. My WWII vets, my POW’s. When there was honor, respect, dignity in service.. their committment to fighting for their country has to mean something..
        Thank you btw, for not blaiming my God for all of the crap.. (He’s my God too)..
        I can only think,that the last 40 yrs, somewhere , somehow you had some happiness, love. You put your heart into something, family, art, those dog types.. Just a bit hard to hear you call the very life God gave you a ‘shit life’.
        I believe (still) that something good will come from even the most disastrous events.. Never too old to dream, or to have hope.

      • jayherron Says:

        My friendship with God is close enough that there is perfect accepting of my like and dislike for this life! Ifully believe what the book of Genisis says…God repented for making man. I am okay with my relationship with God my Father, I will not be critical of yours or any one who has other ideas…there is no searching Gods understanding, so-who am I to say anything about anyone elses relationship with the Lord, God…. I certainly do not state that this is a shit life with out fully sharing my thoughts with God! Sorry-my thoughts may not rise to yours. I am not about religion-at all….just trying to tell some truths about trauma and PTSD and what it did to this man! Peace

  3. john macdonald Says:

    Never Give UP !

    • AC Says:

      Thank you John..please never give up! (Jay, never give up!) I will be with you in spirit.. on April 17th.. Just re-read your post.. With my sketchy calculations it seems you served prior to VietNam, after Korea.. I still find myself in disbelief, that this kind of abuse was a part of ‘serving your country!’.. Look at todays 17 yr old.. It is difficult to imagine them in grown-up roles, put in a position to defend the country! In my eyes, youth was taken advantage of, raped by our country, and too young to realize… We have all been conned.. Mothers sending their sons ‘to do the right, honorable thing’ . Boys wanting to follow in their forefathers footsteps. Boys wanting to get away from a nowhere life and make a better future for themselves.. You found someone to love and care about you for 51 years..! You are a blessed man, in spite of all the hell you have been through. Your parents.. shame on them for leaving such a scar.. I cannot feel their pain right now.. Please keep us posted on the outcome of 4/17.

    • jayherron Says:

      always…one day at a time, one footstep after the other!
      Good to know you are still reading!

  4. AC Says:

    Jay, thank you for your reply. I am just trying to understand.

  5. AC Says:

    Jay, are you also reading from John Macdonalds posts? He is the one from post Korea.. I understand that you served during VietNam. Look, you enlisted. You were willing to put your life on the line for all the goodness that our country stood for. That takes more of a committment than most of us were willing to give.. especially during VietNam. I was a kid. Honestly,when I thought my brother might get drafted, I said. ,”Canada!”.. He enlisted..
    I am a nurse at the VA hospital in my town. Like I said, for 23 years. Every day I am honored to care for these people and hopefully make their day better. Most of my coworkers are dedicated to these guys, and appreciate their sacrifice. My patients have educated me on things I would never have believed, like you. You are the first person that has ever been willing to share such a deep personal truth about military life.. I wonder how many have had similar trauma.. And I wonder about the patient who mistreats everyone.. family, staff.. who has a miserable disease, who refuses to do for himself even though he still can. Even like pouring water, or yes, wiping his own butt.. Could he be one of those that could so horribly treat people like you were treated? Demanding, demeaning. How could this guy protect our freedom, I wonder?? Now he is suffering, right now and forever I believe. That kind of person pays, they are paying and will forever, It’s Karma. Please tell me you believe this, Jay. (or at least please tell me your thoughts) There is no happily ever after.. My God is the Judge. He will do his job
    Again thank you, for reminding me of God’s acceptance of who we are and how we feel.. Peace

    • jayherron Says:

      Yes-I have read from John MacDonalds writings-and he has written me, which is an honor. My response to your karma thoughts are fairly close, I am sure, to yours. You see-I have tried to trust church, but found that I as everyone can walk past the pulpit and through the back door and up the path that goes in any direction…and-become a personal friend with God! I have studied the Bible-wearing out two-and read the Quran and Torah and the golden bible and the green one, the golden is easiest because one half is the bible that the box worshipers read that is in the rack at the box worship center! I tried church. I tried following a pastor…a VN vet-and I even told the man my hesitation to speak in church was due to PTSD and my fear of crowded places…and told him why I am ptsd…and he told me “the Lord has forgiven you Jay”….forgiven me? forgiven me because I was raped??? My final days in the box worship center were when I refused to vote for GW Bush. I only voted one time in my life-which was for Jimmie Carter because his son Jack was arrested in USN appx the same time I was-for drugs, which he had in possession (according to the reports-and his admission)….there was a situation about the ‘general discharges’ handed out in that era-Carter claimed he would change them all to ‘honorable’…mine was refused; funny oddly enough-I have a ‘general’ certificate but ‘honorable DD214’. But-never again will I look at any of the polotick guys as any higher than any other, we all-walk towards the judgement you refer to; yes-I believe there is a judgement; I DO NOT believe we meet up with old pal’s and family in some great golden city…that is not in my understanding, however-I am not a writer of Gods word, I seek His guidance-and love Him.

      As a marijuana smoker-I will not register to vote even to vote for legalization; because-I believe my dear Friend God IS the Guide, my Father and sole true Friend.

      We were deceived-your brother and I and thousands of others wounded by bullet or mental illness from the VNam war. We were-lied to! And today is no different. The ‘sex’ scandals are proof that men and woman cannot behave any better just because of hiegth in power…the stupid senator from Idaho (Craig) tapping his foot in a public restroom to signal the want for…? proof. The recently relieved leader of the CIA-and a general…proof! It is larger than we think-the sexual misconduct in the military-but then…we are talking about human beings, which seem to be ‘perfect’ only if a member of a box where they keep god!

      I’d rather buy a TV set then enter a box of worship!

      I cannot answer for anyone else such as the patients you refer to; they say the abused will abuse…I just want to be alone and away from others, more concerned about trusting them/others. I have always given contribution to the rapes being the reason I will not touch another in a harmful or aggressive way. So-I don’t know. One of my oldest ‘friends’ is a combat vet from VN, no physical wound-but I am certain of PTSD; he drinks and at afternoon happy hour time is in a place only he knows what is there! He is abusive-verbally and oratorically in the ‘points’ he trys to be making-certainly dig at the very wound you might have. Why? I don’t know-he is not the VNam vet I know…one of my friends is a ‘purple heart’ veteran, he never speaks to me in a abusive manner. So-I do not know. I think of one day-one day…I will come to a door-and it will be the exit, thank God-the exit! peace

  6. john macdonald Says:

    Thanks for the support. I was in from March 1959 to April 62. In Germany when the wall went up and our operations in Laos 1960. The hard part was coming to terms with the rape, They didn’t have MST only PTSD. When I had a melt down in 1997 ,I went to the VA. That is when I found I was not alone . When they said don.t ask don.t tell. My answer was. Don’t tell they won’t listen. Now I know it is domination not gay. It gives that person a sense of power over those whom they rape . I still don’t get it .I get my chance to let them know on the 17th. I will never give up , FTA !

    • jayherron Says:

      I hope you were heard on the 17th and hope that you will share.

      Sexuality and rape…two very different things! I too-thought that I was the only one. Yes-the struggles that come with this horrid past-still eat at me. No, it will not completely go away. Yes, the more I speak about it-in writing-or like the other night, in front of a group of strangers…it is powerful. What do we win? Nothing. But…one GREAT day, we will find our TRUE home! NEVER – EVER give up! Peace

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