Posts Tagged ‘male on male rape military’

today,and a year ago tomorrow and in between

November 6, 2008

sunrise
Originally uploaded by jayfherron
 

 

I wish that I could write today about hope. I wish even more that I could write about the changes that are going to come. The only thing I can say is-patience.

I received a call last Friday from the Secretary of Congresswoman Ginny Brown-Waite. I know the call was sincere-she called from an airport…I could hear the noise in the back ground.

My meeting with Brown-Waite was postponed. I was even curious myself about the original date…today! After all, it is two days from the national elections. It was explained to me to be scheduling conflicts. Well, I suppose running for re-election is a scheduling conflict, and one I accept, especially since she was re-elected.

I was asked by the Secretary if I had contacted any other Congresspersons from our area. I told her I’ve been contacting representatives from Congress and the Department of Defense and who ever else would hear me for the last three years…and the Congresswoman is the only response that has come with an invitation. That invitation was to arrange a meeting-and we are going to meet.

Patience. Patience is hard to endure sometimes.

I would like to have written by now that there is hope in promises that people might hear your story and realize you have been wronged-and deserve validation. I wanted to share this hope with others-specifically other military veterans who may also be survivors and sufferers in silence. The hope would have been that there is a line of justice out there-you can be heard and responded to. That has not happened yet-I cannot write about it and  change the direction of what I write about in the future. Tomorrow will be the one year anniversary of my hearing with a Veterans Administration judge. I would to like have written more about that, but there is nothing to write-unless you want to know that nothing has happened. No one has contacted me and said yes or no. It bothers me-because it is something I never had for all of these years. It bothers me because for 37 years it was kept within and regarded with nothing,no attention at all-in my silence. There was nothing to wait for…what it is was already there, and now it is topped with the need for patience.

I’m not even sure why this is. I do not know why it happened. I know how it happened. I just don’t know why it happened to me. It seems like much of my life has been a car wreck, but the experience I had in barrack D has lasted like a permanent injury.

I don’t know how to explain any of it. I was asked once what the difference was for me being a male rape survivor from a females experience. I don’t even know how to explain that-I only know my experience and have not not been able to understand others any more than I do my own. I do know-it has never left me.

I had hoped that tomorrow I would be writing something else. I could have told you that my visit with the Congresswoman was a positive meeting. I wanted to say she heard us…the silent wounded-and that we can see some hope in the way we are treated as veterans. I wanted to write that we will see a change in who hears our story and how they respond. I wanted to explain how our civil rights are being violated-and so because we have been violated. But,I must be patient.

I do believe the Congresswoman’s Secretary will contact me again. I do believe there will be a meeting. I believe what I am have been talking about in these pages is being heard-not only from me, but also by facts that can’t go away. The knowledge that MST (military sexual trauma) survivors are in numbers up in the thousands cannot go away-it can only get larger, and stronger if we continue to come forward and demand that they deal with it.

Little did I know as a teenager at 18 what life was going to dole out next. I stood in a great crowd of men at Fort Hollibird in Baltimore Maryland and took my oath to do my duty to serve my country. The Viet Nam war was in its peak at that time-at least in the knowledge of it and how it reached our youth. Many rebelled and many transferred their citizenship to Canada to flee the war. I stood in a great crowd of men that were all standing up for their country and were heading all branches of military service. The way I was raised and the era that I grew up in-we were taught to honor flag and country. That’s what I was doing. I have to be one of the few guys in life that actually enjoyed ‘boot camp’. I had tried to join the Marines. After boot camp I returned to the Marine recruiter and thanked him for his advice….”you’re too skinny to be a Marine”….”go try the Navy”!! I did not know that one day I’d be writing this.

My career in the Navy was less than a year long. My memory has been all that I ever know. Every day I wake up and what happened is still there. I can’t ever seem to remember a day that began with out my remembering. The details are so so vivid even yet.

I lived all the years since with a guilt and shame that was miserable. I battled self destruction-and ‘damage control’…where I would go out and seek the harmful contact of others. I drank and still skirt alcoholism. I abused drugs of all description. I abused myself. I felt that I failed and lived like I had. The list gets longer from here.

In all the times I battled drugs-I confessed to the Veterans Hospital that I was depressed. The answer they had was in the form of a pill…it was like a drug-it made me feel high. It really troubled me-my fighting to keep from being a drunk and illicit drugs was not easy, and the answer to a question that identified the need for help was given in drugs. I became angry about that and instead of keeping quiet I spoke out. Many times I wish I kept it to myself.

As you can tell by my writing that this is not something easily explained. It is so complicated because of how I know it and it has affected my adult life. It is complex in how detailed it is in m mind. Because…it is my life.

What I couldn’t explain about the difference between being a male rape survivor is that what the entire scope of things did in my life-how it has lived itself a lie in parts of my family, how it restricted my everyday existence because of fear and anxiety. I couldn’t explain why I couldn’t hold a job. For all the years that no one was interested-that no one knew, I couldn’t explain. I cannot explain why it hurt and deepened an old wound by hearing comments that assume I might be homosexual because men raped me-and the hurt worsened when jokes were made of the color of pen I was using to mark pages of a statement I wrote. The jokes alluded to my assumed homosexuality and they came from a man who is supposed to be my advocate towards final justice in that I was a rape victim.

I don’t know why this is. I was sent by a trusted person to give my account about barrack D to a Veterans Affairs advocate. This man was to take my information and walk me through the process of justice. Justice now 38 years over due. It was this advocate who made me afraid because of his ignorant bigotry. It was his comments that made me want to bring as much attention to this as I possibly could. And now it is the reason why I write about it here.

I had no voice before. The only thing I knew that I could do to reach others was to set up a computer and try to reach others via this electric wonder.

We that have survived MST deserve a voice. We deserve a lot more…and through this channel I hope to raise awareness and interest and support towards change as how we are shown the path towards our justice-to get what belongs to us…help!

I wish I could say more today. I think more is coming…so we must be patient.

the conference-attended!

May 24, 2008

the hall to the banquet room

Originally uploaded by jayfherron

As I had written the previous post-I attended the ‘sexual battery’ conference in Gainesville.
I was not too sure if I was going to attend-my anxiety of crowds and large places was paramount….but afterwards I am glad that I got through it.
The conference was held in a church. The church was large as any small college-actually,I never even saw the ‘sanctuary’ because the campus was that large.
The only seminar I intended to sit in was presented by two doctors from the Gainesville Florida Veterans Administration Hospital. The topic-Military Sexual Trauma (MST).

The VA doctors were’nt expecting me.
They showed a slide presentation to enhance their points-the points of self praise in how good a job they are doing.
I could not help to get stirred up when the speaker said that they were going to concentrate on female victims as the number of male victims was in a lower percentage and was insignificant.
They showed a figure of 2%….I offered a figure of 6% in which the speaker counter reacted with these are VA numbers….which I counter reacted with “so are mine,and since your numbers are from 2002 and mine 2006-my numbers were more up to date”.
I expressed that a difference of 4% may not seem significant…but is very significant.
To say it best-the VA doctors presented a sexually biased presentation-completely leaving male victims out of the picture as if we hardly even made a difference.
And…they insisted the health care in supporting survivors was upper scale-I only wished I could have asked how completely severing survivors from the only one they had come to trust-our therapist,was good health care?
And,again we were treated to a ‘wag of the dog’ by them saying the newer facilities they had moved into was proof they were doing a good job.
They failed to mention almost every department in the VA is being moved to outside locations to make room for the additional construction that is going to be underway at the VA Hospital….not a sign of improvement-a sign the problems are growing with the return of Iraq wounded and Afghanistan wounded.

I proudly stood up for other veterans who survive the silent wounds that they received while in military service-the wounds of rape and personal violation to ones body….I stood up and said I was a survivor of MST to a room full of twenty or more persons-strangers to me,a mix of professionals from law enforcement to doctors to mental health care practitioners.
I stood up and refuted the numbers and asked the doctors what the VA was doing to prepare for the fall out from the military enlisting over 100,000 convicted felons and how they were planning on dealing with the down hill effect that will have when these felons (among them over 4000 sexual offenders) commit a crime while in service-for example,repeat offenses in sexual misbehavior are very possible and should be expected.
There was no answer.

I know my questions and remarks were well accepted by the rest of the audience-several came up to me afterwards and told me so.
It was too easy to see how generic and UN-informative the VA presentation was. Something straight out of elementary school.
I cannot believe intelligent people bought very much of it-the slides were old…and as I said,so were the numbers. And worse-the suggestion that the ‘male numbers’ were insignificant was insulting.

The morning began at a breakfast with a keynote speaker. Although the speaker is telling her story of survival across the state-I wish to respect her privacy and not say much about the crime she endured.
I do need to say-the hours she spent being victimized made my two months in barracks D seem easier to accept….but they were words of a survivor that said the same thing I have said all along-I will never forget the incident. This woman was blinded by her attacker…she lost so much,but yet turned around with it and is now a deputy director of the Division of Victim Services for the Office of the Attorney General in the State of Florida.
A survivor who took the crime against her and turned it into a full time job as an advocate for others.

The moment I heard her speak I knew that I had found someone who could help me find the way to reach those in powerful places-like the state senate….to edify those in charge of laws ans systems that there is a problem with in the Veterans Affairs officers who no training in ‘sexual assault’ cases. I expressed to the deputy director that we need to provide survivor’s of MST a sensitive and trained individual for the MST survivor to be able to assist the survivor in processing a claim for compensation for the damages done while being victimized at the hands of those who are in the same ranks as the victim.

I felt like an angel from heaven has coordinated my going to the conference-for these past years of writing these installments of my personal account of being a survivor is so I can reach those who can make a difference in the survivors future…and by being handed this one survivors business card has said there is value in patience and faith,and I know there is soon to be a newer level to my activism for veterans-survivors of Military Sexual Trauma.