Posts Tagged ‘male survivors of military sexual trauma’

September 13, 2012

I was speaking to a veteran yesterday and he was explaining how his conversation had gone with his DVA officer-this conversation was about the veterans claim for post traumatic stress and directly connected with MST. I could not help to remember my first meeting with a public paid DVA officer in my home county. The man had no clue any more than a rock would have about what I was telling him!

I sat across from a former Marine. The office walls behind his desk were crowded with decorations from active military duty and Congressional awards because of his dedication to US Military veterans.

I have no doubt of this mans experience and success in aiding disabled veterans filing claims. He just had limited experience only capable of understanding the needs of a veteran that has legitimate injuries…as for this desk Marine-he lacked understanding!

No-there are no legitimate injuries! But speaking to this particular former Marine he would have never been able to accept the fact that ‘military sexual trauma’ exists in his military! He made jokes, his staff made jokes-there was no seriousness taken in what I had opened up to tell him.

The VA mental health clinic had made the suggestion to report my rapes to the DVA for validation. What happened at the DVA office was unacceptable for any survivor.

So when the veteran was talking yesterday my mind kept drifting into my local DVA office and getting a visual of whom my friend was trying tell his story to in his home area. This has been what I have felt is insensitive treatment to this type of claim and to expect any sexual trauma survivor (we actually just limp along) to go to ‘any ol’ Joe’ to fill in the details of the criminal act of rape!

This is re-traumatising…and this is not right!

Honestly my friend was not complaining but you could sense the reserve in his voice as “what are you going to do”? but it isn’t just him or me alone, it is the countless silent wounded who have  the same concerns-after all, this is not an injury one easily speaks to anyone about-especially if ever trying to report the crime in the first place and being told to “snuff it up” or “not in my battalion”! From the moment of the attack the victims self-esteem is shoved into the dirt…it keeps on being pushed into the dirt from then on! So-who is welcoming going into the office of the local DVA and follow VA procedure on filing PTSD disability claims?

There needs to be a more sensitive solution to ease the burden of filing a claim for post traumatic stress when the filer is a survivor of MST! We shouldn’t have reason to file at all-sexual trauma is not how the enlisted person expects to be injured and no one expected to gain a lifetime of suffering-silently! We stood up to defend our flag and our national security-and we are veterans, but it is not the same sense of being a veteran who can speak proudly of their service-because there is a very black and missing piece that cannot be told! I know this is so because I can never erase that I spent time in the military-and wish that I could erase all of it-but in fact, it comes up in conversations here and there and especially in unexpected moments. I have to leave the blank every time and so often I am so ashamed. And, I am not the one who should be ashamed! I am a veteran from a war-time and I enlisted months before my legal age… I should have a different story to tell. All of us should!

But-what troubles me is when we do want to talk about our military life, and what happened, when will there be someone the veteran can feel confident the person they are telling this history to is quailified to understand the trauma?


class action re:MST

February 13, 2011

freeze dress for Florida

Originally uploaded by jayfherron

Last May I traveled to Washington DC by thinking there were meetings arranged with several Senators to discuss MST (military sexual trauma)…and there were but the companion in this was a let down and I separated from his company.
Later in the week I was introduced to Susan Burke (a Washington,DC attorney) and I wrote about the visit and was excited about her plans to file a class action lawsuit against the Department of Defense (DoD). This action takes place Tuesday this coming week.

I really have no knowledge of what the wording and the case foundation is about other than that when she explained it to me last May it sounded that the action was to hold the DoD accountable for the way rape cases are handled if they are reported to superiors and how they are followed through from that point. I assume to place the superior in a criminal position for not finding facts and convicting the criminal. Yes,if the superior officer keeps silent about a reported rape…that is a problem.

MST is only titled such because the event of a rape or sexual harassment was directly involving a fellow soldier,or superior officer,on or off the military base or station of duty. Otherwise a rape is just as devastating on the civilian side of this. Sexual trauma is a deviants assault,it happens in homes and in parks and churches and in prisons. There will never be a way to stop the evil heart of a sexual predator,so far as I can know.

It is true! There needs to be some standards changed in the military ranks beginning by making it rule number one that a rape charge should be immediately investigated to fullest extent. The time of telling the victims to hush up and get used to it should be long ended. I don’t think it is. I agree,if the superior that takes the account of the victim and puts it aside to hush it up,yes…that person should be held accountable.

Frankly I am not an authority of any kind to discuss exactly what a class action law suit is. So my words here are based on a layman’s thoughts. I have no room to be critical at all as far as the message the class action will convey towards an eventual change in the future. I am proud to know that someone is shaking the doors at the DoD about military sexual trauma.

The only problem is…the suit is limited to the past 11 years. This would exclude the Gulf war veteran,the Viet Nam war veteran and Korean war veteran and the World War veteran. I am just sad that it is so. I hope that there is something that just don’t understand about this. How many thousand of  veterans have kept silent of thier victimization over 40 or 50 or more years could benefit to be included in the acknowledgement that MST does indeed happen and there is a large number of veterans who have endured a life of silence and shame and guilt and despair that is a part of the post trauma that affects us since the day the crime took  place.

The military is a society just as any,there are all walks of life. There those who came from wealth and those who came from the mountains or the plains or the streets. There are the educated right along with many who finished school with a GED diploma. Smart folks and folks that have never seen a lawn mower. Good guys,and bad guys….leaders and followers,it is a society.  Just as much as we wish to stop crime in  the civilian society,the equivalent is in the ranks as well. There are so many parallels. As we do here in our community when a crime occurs there is an investigation and hopefully a conviction,which is a missing part of what happens in the case of MST. Mostly.

There is a difference too…as who do you tell and can that person be trusted to help. The military is divided by levels of  those you can’t speak out about,who would listen? The fear of ranks and the fraternal divisions and personality. Fear.

There needs to be an accountability.

But it goes deeper than that. A long time deeper,a long time deeper after the uniforms are folded away and civilian life returns and the nights are filled with terror in our dreams and our days are filled with anxiety and stress all  because of PTSD. It would be great if things went different in my case 41 years ago….if people heard me and took my assailants away and protected me and gave me medical care and held someone accountable. But it never happened,and I never will know if it would have helped. But it would have made some difference, it would have to.

What needs to be introduced is a new way to receive the MST veteran on the civilian side to guarantee sensitive care to the MST survivor.

An additional accountability ought to be assigned to how the MST veteran is taken care of on the VA side. The veteran will be a part of the VA system likely much longer than as a soldier and with out a doubt suffer longer than that!

Sexual trauma should never be divided into levels or lifestyles or considered a past event that would be better off forgotten,although I wish I could forget it but woke even this day with the event fresh from my dream.

Yes…the criminal needs convicting and held accountable.

 The MST veteran will be injured for a lifetime longer than a conviction will cover. There needs to be an accountability that covers the survivors life span as much as there needs to be an accountability that ensures swift and true justice.


the interview

June 18, 2010

me on the USS Vulcan
Originally uploaded by jayfherron


Last night was a gift for all of the SILENT WOUNDED!

Last week l was asked to consider being the guest on a radio program-The Rape Declaration Forum (WBAI-FM 99.5 NYC…the program airs the 3rd Thursday of each month).

The invitation was because l am a male-and survivor of sexual trauma.

Earlier this week I was contacted again-by the co-host of the program-and l was asked to do a promo…and l was unable to say anything intelligent. The co-host remarked “usually a spokes-person has something prepared”!!

I had to think about that-l was dumbfounded too,after all-l talk about MST in my blog all of the time…and then l realized why l was stuck! I am not a spokesperson about male sexual trauma-l am a spokesperson about ‘military sexual trauma’….and not necessarily about male victims-as important as that is also,but to inform others about MST is paramount.

Military Sexual Trauma-MST

I could not believe my ears last night as the hosts began the program-and introduced me as a “whistle-blower” against the Department of Defense (well…they said it,but it ain’t that accurate-the DoD already knows the problem exists) …

…and,they introduced me as a spokesperson for the SILENT WOUNDED.

I was very proud of that moment-hearing them say SILENT WOUNDED…and knowing then that there were no gates-and no closed doors…and that freedom was there to say what so many want to say! We have been wounded in a dishonorable way…we remain wounded and feel guilt and shame and pain.

Our voice was given an hour on a New York City radio program. The program will be loaded into their archives next week. I hope I handled the message responsibly.

I am truly thankful to the hosts-Jay Grayce and Rebecca Myles for allowing us to speak!


MST survivors-front and center

April 25, 2010

American flags
Originally uploaded by jayfherron


May 10-11,2010 may not be the exact venue to stand up for MST survivors! That will not matter-what will matter is-there will be a voice! I will be there in Washington DC to stand up for all survivors!

If I can carry your message to Congress:

MST /9950 NE 132 Terrace/Williston FL 32696



Even if a lone banner stood out-a garden begins with one seed!

I know I am not alone-and I know there are many,who like me,thought that they were the only one. I still can’t imagine it at all to where it could make any sense. I lived for 35 years before any attention came to the fact that I was raped while in the US Military. I had reported the rape the day it happened-but because my attack happened in a detention barracks it was shrugged off. I kept it to myself since.

Detention barracks? Yes…I was trying to get home for a holiday and was caught in a snow storm. I was unable to get back to ship for roll call,my bus was stuck at a terminal. That was my crime!

My post traumatic disorder of a life came to the care of a therapist at the VA hospital in nearby Gainesville,Florida. During that care I was told that I should find a sense of validation and appeal for disability benefits.

I reported my case to a Veterans Service Officer ( VSO ) in my home county (as is the way the process is to run in order) explaining to a man I had never seen before in my life-someone who is to be trusted as my advocate-how it was that I was raped and repeatedly abused for nearly two months.

The VSO nodded his head in disbelief-his comment after hearing my story was: “Gee…you’d never think homosexuals have a need to rape each other”! and he seemed to think this was something that only black men do – to rape young whites in a detention center. My attackers were white men.

I am angry at the ignorance of this man-his comments made the crime of rape sound like a sexual encounter…one I must have enjoyed-although it did not seem so at the time. Rape is not a sexual encounter. Rape is not anything of any kind of pleasure. Explain where getting socked with closed fists is pleasure-or having someone wrestle your legs with force…pleasure?

This kind of ignorance is everywhere-the way the appeal procedure is organized for the veteran to appeal for disability benefits. The veteran must apply for his or her claim in most cases an office staffed by those experienced in combat related or natural related injury. In most cases-there is no training regarding the sensitive issue of rape…no one wants to accept that it happened anyway!

The appeal process is carried to the Veterans Administration by the VFW or AMVets…again,someone who has no experience dealing with the sensitive issues of rape! The veteran is required to be sponsored by one of these organizations…perhaps the greatest for legitimate veterans-but those like me do not share that same honor. I’ve never felt right about any of my military service since the rapes-my life completely changed forever. I had begun my Navy life with the desire for a career-those dreams were shattered.

I am going to Washington DC! Whatever it is I have to do to draw attention to the poster I will carry-I will do. My poster will be the banner…


The lobbying events scheduled for May 10-11 are centered around ‘Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell’…I am going there despite that our issue is not company with that-I AM going because our issue is one of grave consequences on the effects of the suffering of an MST veteran.

We NEED to raise awareness…I will attend these two days in Washington DC to stand up for MST survivors!

If you have a message to Congress regarding MST and the Veterans Administration’s treatment of MST veterans-the disability claim process…a statement about MILITARY SEXUAL TRAUMA that you want hand delivered-send it to me and I WILL deliver!


walking to Washington DC?

December 1, 2009


Originally uploaded by jayfherron

Walking to Washington. I did it once before-nearly,when my grandfather in Pottstown (Pennsylvania) died back in 1970 or 71. Lost track.

I hitch-hiked much of the way. Those days it was easy to stand along the roadside and stick the thumb out to catch a ride.

I remember sleeping the first night under an over pass on the interstate. In those days I-95 was sporadic and often the road went through detours . It was not easy travel. The only food I remember eating was raw corn that I picked across a fence in a field along the highway. I remember how thrilled I was years later to learn that Jesus and His disciples did the same thing-gleaning the corn from a field to eat.

I was not allowed to attend the funeral. I arrived at my parents in the suburbs of DC and was expecting to continue to Pottstown to attend Pop-Pop’s funeral. My father refused to take me to Pottstown.

It is a long way by foot and thumb. Now a day that mode of transport is mostly forgotten. I can tell you that the style of it never will.

I want to do it again! I have had the thought in my head for a couple of years. Florida once had a governor that walked from one end of the state to the other to meet voters and earn their respect. It worked-they sent Lawton Chiles to head the state and further on to Washington DC. Why did he walk? To gain attention…they called him ” Walkin’ Lawton “!

I’m not running for any political offices. I am not in that mode of understanding. Politicians give enough of not much to give me that impression. Maybe it is just me-and maybe I need to try to believe one more time.  I do know that if one raises enough hell about something they are listened to a little more carefully. For example-the road out in front of my place. A two mile stretch which is also on a county line. Not one of the counties took responsibility for the road-and over the years it became crowded and worse to drive than any road in Daktari. We raised our voices as a community and the elected could not help hearing us. The road is paved.


I am having a difficult time writing this. My emotions are shaky much because of the holiday seasons coming up-and my nightmares are beating me lately. I recently was interviewed by a pair of journalists who are compiling the stories of other survivors-survivors of  ‘military sexual trauma’ (MST) and the duration of the two days telling my story have added to the weakness I experience around this time of year.

My holiday in 1969 was when my sexual trauma took place. To be more specific-it was New Years Eve 69-70-it was around 0200,22 hours before the new year began.

The things that took place during that time altered my life forever. For many years I thought I was the only one it ever happened to-but learned what happened to me has happened to others…enough others that it is called MST.

All the series of pages written in this journal explain many things about my life as a male survivor of sexual trauma-rape! I also explain that the reason I came to write all of this is because after 35 years of silence my story came to the attention of our local VA hospital. There I began treatment for post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Eventually I was told to apply for veterans benefits- a way of closure and validation.

The man I was required to appeal to made some concerning remarks. They were not only concerning-they were hurtful. This man was to represent me as an advocate regarding something in my life so tattooed in my soul from the pain of what happened in 1969-70,and he was a bigot. I told this person about being raped and he made jocular comments and expected me to see the humor. He could not be in charge of something so serious to me-he had no education and the responsibility of caring for a rape survivor had no business being in his control.

I am nearly tempted from the fatigue of writing to members of Congress and Senators regarding the need for changes in how veterans suffering from MST are treated in respect to the other veterans who have received honorable injuries in the line of duty. Now knowing what I have learned-there are thousands of MST survivors,many who do not know of the rights they have,many who are too frightened to find out. I am nearly tempted to begin a walk towards Washington DC to raise awareness of the crime of MST and the fact that survivors have had their rights violated by the bigotry of the advocates placed to represent them.

I will try to continue this later…

catching up…

June 13, 2009


Originally uploaded by jayfherron

The past two months have been blank…then I return home to what should have been a time of relaxation did not work out as such-I became fatigued on my return flight from Hawaii. That wore me down where I got sick-and stayed sick and tired for a number of weeks.
Then the computer died-or,perhaps,caught that I was tired and it bogged up. That meant a call to the Dell Indian who vacuumed the thing bone dry removing with it my photographs and certain bookmarks and my will to want to!

I have not lost the motivation to write. I have come to a point where writing my story has got to come to an end somewhere-I said this before…this is not really meant to be about me-although what happened to me is important for others to understand. In basics-the reader just needs to read back and the whole story is there. Also ,what I am saying here seems to have had influence on others-so I don’t want to end it-writing! I would like to transform into hopefully helping other veterans-survivors of MST to approach the long battle to get what is rightfully belongs to them…admission-acknowledgment from the military that you were indeed victimized on their watch.

It would be better to see the attackers convicted. I know that is asking for a little much-but I do feel emotions from having papers saying that MST did occur and that I had no blame in what took place. No blame being because I was in a detention barracks and that I had done nothing to warrant being there.

I’m not an educated person so I don’t have all these powers of a degree and fellowships to give me a boost in becoming an advocate for others. Actually-I’m thankful in some ways that I’m not a degree scholar. I happen to see a hole in the way certain classes of veterans are treated-and perhaps a gap in how a survivor sees themselves as a veteran. I see this from the perspective of a survivor-being a male survivor myself.

What I do see are men in position as advocates-sanctioned by the individual states Veterans Affairs department…uneducated men particularly where the crime of rape and sexual assault is considered.

What I will continue to advocate for is a change in how MST survivors appeal for medical and financial benefits. I will keep shouting the best way I can to hopefully be heard on behalf of change…military sexual trauma -MST (any sexual trauma) is horrific to live with. Sexual attacks change the victim so deeply-fear consumes the survivor.

To send an MST survivor through a process of appealing for compensation where they are required to seek the confidence of a veterans advocate who may not ever understand the details of a rape-is wrong.

The way the system is set up every veteran who has been injured in military service must file the beginning papers for a benefit claim with a Veterans Affairs (BVA) officer in the home county of the veteran. Every veteran! This includes a claim for MST.

For those that do come forward-the veteran who responds to the question of unwanted sexual contact,they most likely would be doing so at a veterans hospital. They rountinely ask the question during a scheduled physical-yet the veteran might find other channels to find a confidential ear.

When the question is answered ‘yes’ there should be an automatic open avenue for the MST survivor to go through. A medical professional should be in place instead of a BVA representative-the MST survivor should be treated with sensitive attention to his or her injury and case.

I was sent to my local BVA representative and he was challenged to confusion as why homosexuals would need to rape each other-he was certain my attackers were blacks…he was nearly dumbfounded when I told him they were not. There were later comments that sounded more like jokes about me. I am angry that someone who suffers from the shame of sexual trauma is subjected to that kind of rudeness and ignorance-and bigotry.

I want to see it different for others. I hope some way comes to lighten up the path to show what trauma this is-and to inspire a change in how MST survivors find healing and hope through a gentler system.


MST survivors need rights!

March 16, 2009




There was once a time when I thought I had been the only one. Never had it crossed my mind there was anyone else that had experienced the same kind of fears brought on by being a sexual assault survivor.  I was convinced that my life was an extraordinary mix up and what had happened through out was too hard for anyone to believe. It has been too hard for me to believe.

When I entered the Veterans Administration Hospital (VA) treatment program for PTSD I was amazed to learn there are many others-so many that VA has an individual title-‘military sexual trauma’ (MST) and even has an in-patient treatment center in Bay Pines,Florida. I have heard it is a seven week program. I have come to know the numbers of MST survivors are in the thousands. It did not make me feel comfortable to know-it actually makes me sick to think of it.

When I was raped the beginning of the longest fear began. Included in that fear is the ability to stand up for myself.  I lost that ability in barracks D-results of too many times having my arm twisted behind my back to do things unmentionable for my bully. Anytime an argument begins I already loose because I have been trained to loose.

I never thought that I would be writing about all of this. For much of my life since discharge from the Navy I had figured it out that no one was interested in what had happened. I spent most of my life appearing like a looser to many-I couldn’t hold a job-I had a hard time staying sober,or clean from drugs. Things I know now are directly connected to my mental health-that being distorted by the events in barracks D….they call it PTSD.

When during treatment-which finally came some 30 plus years after living the way I had-in secret of what had happened those years ago…when during treatment I was encouraged to appeal for a ‘service connected disability’. I was told-and it is so,that I am permanently injured due to the events in my life in the military.

As a male survivor-I can only speak from my point of view. I know that sitting down and telling any man that I had been raped was not a pleasant thing to do. The first man I ever told was the officer I told about the rapes-the morning they happened. He laughed it off as if I told him a funny bit of trivia telling me to “get used to it”!!

When I told the ‘veterans advocate’ at our local Veterans Affairs office my story he made statements that offended me and insulted others. He was perplexed that my attackers were not black men. He made another statement that rang of ignorance…”gee,you never think homosexuals have a need to rape each other!” There were other comments that seemed to regard rape as a sexual encounter of some kind-and not a physically violent crime. Comments that kept connecting men raping men has anything to do with homosexuality-these are wrong.

Combined with that experience-echoing the sounds of the officer back in barracks D….”get used to it!” and knowing the numbers of MST survivors are large-larger than the American public know,I cannot stand it that MST survivors suffer so much humiliation and shame would also have to be subjected to the same kind of ignorance that I found myself facing.

And I am thinking about this from the perspective of a MST survivor-male and female…the degradation is the same. What disturbs me is the unfairness it all carries with it.  Being forced to remain silent all of our lives out of fear-and for safety…then being convinced to trust once again-to come forward and enlist the system to correct some wrongs,offer validation-and then the same system confronts the MST survivor with bigoted remarks. Is this happening to every MST survivor? I feel like it is-and it the reason the true numbers of MST survivors are actually unknown.

After the rape-nothing goes away. You may take a shower and wash off. But nothing goes away. It is worse than a tattoo. At least if you don’t like the tattoo you can have it changed-but most likely the mark on your skin never goes away. It is like the mark in your mind-the mind of a rape survivor…it is always there. Just what might even be considered a slight thought about the rapes makes my skin feel quivery and my stomach ill-and after 39 years one would think it might change.

And then by chance that you are reminded there is an option to seek validation through the challenge of justice-there is no one that is qualified for you to trust. I certainly did not feel any wings of protection coming from my first ‘advocate’. I felt fear-and knew by instinct that this was someone who was not on my side…and I did not want him to be trying to be.

Where are the rights of these veterans?

The Veterans Administration says we cannot provide our own representation-unless they are approved by the VA. The representative they approved-and provided me was a bigot. He had no ears for my case…he did not care-I was paper work to him. There are many other MST survivors who should fear this policy-who should have the freedom to proper representation in these sensitive cases. The ‘gunny sargent’ turned veterans advocate has no business being a confident in something he absolutely does not even believe in-cannot comprehend in truth…confused as to why homosexuals need to rape each other,or that violent crime is only committed by certain races.

That is unjust-and I believe it is illegal. Yet this is the kind of approved representation MST survivors are offered?


February 1, 2009


Originally uploaded by jayfherron

Tomorrow begins the first weekday of a new month,another business day. The month has ended a two month visit with the holidays and the business of swearing in our new President. Everything had been busy but now we have begun to settle.

I was very pleased to learn this past week that there were Congressional hearings taking place on the very topic I write about-MST (military sexual trauma). I was sad to see there was nothing written in the news.

I learned of the hearings by coincidence-I emailed a partner in veterans advocacy who at the very time she received my email-she was sitting in the gallery observing the hearings. She emailed me back-and I am looking forward to further conversations towards bringing attention to MST and the veteran who survives,the silent wounded.

I was sad,though,by not learning about the hearings from someone I have made many efforts to contact. I received a letter of interest from Ginny Brown-Waite from the House of Representatives. She also is on the Committee on Veterans Affairs. Her letter from September 2007 encouraged me to contact her office at my earliest convenience to arrange a meeting. September,October,November,December,January-has passed,we had one meeting arranged-oddly enough,it was election day-and that date was finally canceled by her staff.

I really would have been willing to stand in front of Congress and tell them what life as a male survivor of MST has been like and what it is like for all survivors. The fears and phobias and nightmares-those along with the loss of a real life,productive-sober…none of those were possible because of post traumatic stress.

I am disappointed that Congresswoman Brown-Waite has not been informed personally about the many times I have emailed and written  formal letters telling her that the civil rights of MST survivors have been hidden away-if not vacant altogether-asking her to invite me to sit down and explain how that is. Otherwise I feel like she would ask.

It would have been a moment of achievement to be able to stand in front of Congress and say to them what I have been saying in this journal. To be able to speak out for every veteran-and every MST survivor would have made a million differences in my life of trying to heal.

Our civil rights have been violated. This should be of interest to every American. We have been victims of a violent crime while doing our duty to serve our country. The reaction from our superiors and comrades was the beginning of this violation-many of us were told to keep it to ourselves,or to get used to it. Afterwards-we have to walk in our own silence,there is no one  safe enough for us as a veteran to report this to. Usually the knowledge a veteran has been the victim of a rape comes by accident. We have no one sensitive enough to understand our issues when we decide to hold the military accountable-and to file for a claim for benefits as the legitimately injured soldier does. The advocates in position to help the others have no idea or training to understand what an MST survivors life is like. They have no understanding that sexual assault is not a pleasurable accident.

I would think someone who is on the Committee on Veterans Affairs would have notified me-and invited me to participate after the many requests I’ve written to be heard. I am thankful for the testimony of the female MST survivor-it such courage,but we need to also show the male survivor hurts too-and that we are a part of the numbers.

what’s next…?

December 27, 2008


Originally uploaded by jayfherron

We come to the end of the year. To those of you who have read my writings you already know that the marking of the new year know that my life was changed forever on December 31,1969-about 0200 in the morning. New Years eve.

The things I relate in my story here are about my life as a male rape survivor. They aren’t just a journal about the attacks-there was life in between then and now….it just wasn’t particularly normal. What I hope for them to be is to express what it is like-to educate about one mans life with PTSD.

I never intended to come this far-to write about it. Once upon a time I vowed there would never be a computer in my house. I see that has changed. Still, I never meant to come this far. It seems it is not over.

What stayed silent in me for 30 plus years came out by anger over being prescribed drugs for my having bouts with depression. I had spent much of my adult life fighting drugs and alcohol-trying to be sober…mostly because I found the drugs and drinking my way of hiding my life,yet each morning-there it was. I had spent too much time trying to live life more clearer-to work at being drug free and free of drinking every day.

I was prescribed anti-depressant after a routine visit at the Veterans hospital in my area. They asked a question…”are you depressed”? and I answered “sometimes”. They gave me a bottle of pills-those pills made me feel high.

I wrote a letter to the VA Hospital explaining that I was not going to take the medicine-I told them why, just like I said here-why hide the problem with a drug? That was the first time I ever mentioned being raped.

My rape and continual sexual assaults happened while I was in the US Navy.

Because of this connection-the VA offered therapy and through that therapy I learned that I should appeal for disability benefits. I was told that I deserved them.

When I met the Veterans Affairs advocate who was to represent me in finding  justice-the man made comments that concluded being raped and male made the whole scene a homosexual event-he commented that it was “surprising that homosexuals needed to rape each other”…he also concluded my attackers were black and showed surprise when I said that was wrong.

After that I could not remain silent. I felt  violated once again. I remember the officer that interviewed me the morning of my rape saying “get used to it” when he discovered that I had been attacked. It wasn’t hard to notice-my uniforms were damp with urine-my face bruised and obviously afraid.

I could not believe the ignorence that came across from a man who was supposed to be my advocate and stand up and speak for me. How could he be sincere-he knew nothing of what I was telling him.

After calming down-my anger about this remained. How many other veterans-survivors of sexual trauma-have experienced this bigotry and ignorance? How many stay away and never say a word all because of the fear this would happen?

My anger made me buy a computer and learn how to use it to reach others-to tell my story, and to tell the story of countless others. I also learned how to use the computer to reach those who should hear us…the silent wounded.

We have made strides in our goal. I look forward to see how the coming year will turn about-how since I first bought this computer three years ago has found being invited to Washington DC. It is in Washington that I am hopeful to convey our story to those who can make change.

Just three weeks ago I spoke with Joan Esnayra who founded PsychDogs, an Arlington Virginia based foundation that teaches veterans with PTSD to train service dogs to assist them in daily life. I explained to Joan my experience with rape and PTSD and the experience I had with the Veterans Affairs advocate-I told her my ideas for change and how wrong it is to know there is a large number of military veterans suffering because of PTSD resulting from sexual trauma. Military Sexual Trauma-MST.

I also explained to Joan that I am hopeful to meet with Congresswoman Ginny Brown-Waite and her Chief of Staff to discuss this and how those survivors who are silent and suffering – have also had their civil rights violated.

Through this conversation Joan introduced me to Steve Robinson-via telephone. Steve understood everything I said-and hears us! Mr.Robinson will prove to be a valuable helpmate in our battle-he is the former aid to Donald Rumsfeld (former Secretary of Defense) who exposed the scandal at Walter Reed Veterans Hospital in Washington DC.  Mr Robinson has promised to pick up the rod with me after the holiday season returns us back to normal-and after the hub bub of the inauguration is over in Washington.

What is hopeful in all of this is that we can make a change in the Veterans Administration to provide those who are the silent wounded a sensitive ear and advocate to assist the veteran in getting what is rightfully theirs-justice, and equal rights!

To be among the silent wounded-to know the shame and guilt that comes along with the memories. I never thought my hurt would work towards this direction. I always thought it would be my secret-kept shut up with in. I never knew my anger would erupt like this-from the very facility that’s in place to help veterans came hurt.  But it has made me see the need to change this for every survivor of the humiliation of MST.

finally at the door!

October 28, 2008


Originally uploaded by jayfherron

It seems almost as if it has been planned this way-next week on November 6 I will be meeting the Honorable Ginny Brown-Waite,Congresswoman from Florida. It is one day day short of a year from having my hearing before a judge who heard the details of my rape and assaults. That hearing was 37 years over due….the answer is also over due.
I am not going to meet with Congresswoman Brown-Waite to talk about me.
My meeting with her is about the ‘silent wounded’…the silent and the scared.
The topic I want to discuss is what happens to those like me-the fears and anxieties that consume the life of a trauma survivor. Sexual trauma. Military Sexual Trauma.
I want to explain that many of the numbers that the Department of Defense offer as known offenses are incorrect-and only a guess. Many are afraid to come forward-many men and woman remain silent out of fear.

I understand that fear. Over the years I had to learn to live around it. It never goes away.
The Naval intelligence officer I reported the rape to the morning it happened responded with a chuckle,nodding his head and telling me to “get used to it”. That I have never been able to do.

What I want to tell the Congresswoman is that after living the way I have for all these years I finally found help through the Veterans Administration Hospital (in Gainesville Florida). That help was the first time I found a place of trust-that trust taken away by the VA Hospital…abruptly,as it was for a number of other veterans,also survivors.
I want to explain how during the few years that I was being seen for my ‘post traumatic’ issues it was suggested to me to appeal for a disability compensation. These appeals are handled by filing with the local Veterans Affairs office.
I trusted that idea. I was wrong.

When I met with the Veterans Affairs officer I was also met with remarks that were bigoted and racial. The ignorence of the man was too deep to fully reach. He was perplexed that “homosexuals had a need to rape each other” and was seemingly disappointed that my attackers were not blacks. A few weeks later more remarks came almost as if they were teasing me and I was going to get the joke-this time the room was full with others laughing along.
As you can guess this horrified me-and then angered me.

I want to impress upon the Congresswoman the need for a change in how the ‘silent wounded’ are met when they return to civilian life. We already know the numbers are high-but what has happened is too many remain silent out of fear of the same things I just described.
To be harrassed with the insensitive manners of an uneducated individual who’s job it it to hear the details of how a soldier was wounded is wrong. Perhaps it is so they possess the qualifications to take the reports of legitimate injury. By legitimate injury I mean those sustained while doing your duty-not those sustained while being forced sexually by a fellow service man…or woman.

I want to express to the Congresswoman that when such veterans do come forward and reach the proper health care area of VA Hospital that thier case should and must take a more sensitive route to be resolved.
To willingly enlist n the United States Military-to volunteer to do your duty to the country you love and live in…to do somethng honorable and yet to find yourself treated in the worse way imaginable,and then to be blamed for it-forever! It is wrong. And then to be unable to come forward out of fear-and unable to say that we are disabled too is a part of our civil rights being restricted.
It is those civil rights I am going to talk to the Congresswoman about.

This is for all of us. Let us hope God loosens my lips so I can say everything and say it properly.