Posts Tagged ‘veterans advocacy in MST’

this should interest MST survivors

December 26, 2010

This article and the video is very interesting…especially considering the source of who is reporting it!

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!


Military Sexual Trauma-Veterans Administration in-patient treatment facilities

July 6, 2009


This list consists of programs identifying themselves as providing MST or sexual trauma-specific treatment in a residential or inpatient setting. Only programs open and actively accepting referrals are included, such that programs under development are not listed. Programs range from those solely dedicated to the treatment of sexual trauma; to those with a special track emphasizing the treatment of sexual trauma; to those with two or more staff members with expertise in sexual trauma who, in the context of a larger program not focused on sexual trauma, provide treatment targeting this issue. More detailed information about each program is provided on the pages following this summary list.

VISN 1 VA Boston HCS/Jamaica Plain Campus, Boston, MA: Women Veterans’ Therapeutic Transitional Residence Program VA Boston HCS/Brockton Campus, Brockton, MA: Women’s Integrated Treatment & Recovery Program

VISN 2 VA Western New York HCS/Batavia Campus, Batavia, NY: Women Veterans’ Residential Program

VISN 3 VA New Jersey HCS, Lyons, NY: Women’s Military Sexual Trauma Residential Program

VISN 5 VA Maryland HCS/Baltimore Division, Baltimore, MD: Dual Diagnosis PTSD/Substance Abuse PRRTP

VISN 7 Augusta VAMC, Augusta, GA: MST Clinic & Domiciliary Residential Rehabilitation and Treatment Program

VISN 8 Bay Pines VAHCS, Bay Pines, FL: Center for Sexual Trauma Services

VISN 10 Cincinnati VAMC, Cincinnati, OH: Residential PTSD Program VISN 12 Clement J. Zablocki VAMC, Milwaukee, WI: Rehabilitation and Transition Unit – Trauma Track North Chicago VAMC, North Chicago, IL: Stress Disorder Treatment Unit

VISN 15 VA Eastern Kansas HCS/Topeka Division, Topeka, KS: Stress Disorder Treatment Program

VISN 17 Central Texas Veterans HCS, Temple, TX: Women’s Trauma Recovery Center

VISN 21 VA Palo Alto HCS/Menlo Park Division, Menlo Park, CA: Women’s Trauma Recovery Program

VISN 22 VA Long Beach Healthcare System, Long Beach, CA: “Renew” & “Bridges”

 Please see the pages that follow for more detailed information about each program.

 VISN 1 Facility: VA Boston HCS/Jamaica Plain Campus (Boston, MA) Type of program: PTSD Transitional Residence Program name: Women Veterans’ Therapeutic Transitional Residence Program (TRUST House) Phase of treatment targeted: Flexible, ranges from stabilization and skill-development to trauma processing. MST-specific treatment available: Veterans receive therapy through the Boston Women’s Stress Disorder Treatment Team, a clinic with an explicit emphasis on treating sexual trauma. TR staff also have expertise in this area. Notable admission criteria: Prefer 90 days sobriety; able to function independently; ability to work 20 hours/week; prefer 60 days without suicidal behavior. Some criteria are flexible depending on the individual case. Treat both men and women? Women only. Rolling vs cohort admissions & length of program: Rolling admissions. Ask for commitment of at least 3 months though prefer veterans to stay for a year; maximum stay is 18 months. Contact information: Erica Sharkansky, PhD – (857) 364 – 4925; Facility: VA Boston Healthcare System, Brockton Campus (Brockton, MA) Type of program: Women’s Residential Program Program name: Women’s Integrated Treatment & Recovery Program Phase of treatment targeted: Emphasis on integrated treatment of substance abuse and trauma; group therapy focuses on skills building for maintaining abstinence and managing PTSD symptoms. MST-specific treatment available: Individual therapy focused on processing sexually traumatic experiences using a CPT model with and without exposure. Staff members have expertise in the area of sexual trauma. Notable admission criteria: Commitment to abstinence; medically stable; linked to outpatient care and have a discharge plan; no acute psychotic symptoms, suicidal or homicidal ideation. Treat both men and women? Women only. Rolling vs cohort admissions & length of program: Rolling admissions with 8-week length of stay which may be extended to 90 days under certain circumstances, if for example, a veteran awaiting admission to a subsequent program needs to meet criteria for a length of sobriety greater than 56 days or is awaiting housing. Contact information: Sharon L. Baker, Ph.D. – (774) 826-1312;

VISN 2: Facility: VA Western New York HCS/Batavia Campus (Batavia, NY) Type of program: Women’s Residential Program Program name: Women Veterans’ Residential Program Phase of treatment targeted: Emphasis on trauma processing as well as intensive self-regulatory and interpersonal skill development. MST-specific treatment available: Individual and group therapy focused on processing sexually traumatic experiences. Staff members have expertise in the area of sexual trauma. Currently have mixed-trauma cohorts, though at times cohorts end up being entirely composed of veterans with sexual trauma histories. Notable admission criteria: 30 days sobriety; medically stable; linked to outpatient care and have a discharge plan; no acute suicidal or homicidal ideation. Treat both men and women? Women only. Rolling vs cohort admissions & length of program: Utilize a cohort system with a 10 week length of stay. If the cohort has openings, short-term stays of one to two weeks are possible for veterans wishing to focus on skill-building and supportive therapy. Contact information: Terri Julian, Ph.D. – (585) 297-1205; VISN 3: Facility: VA New Jersey HCS, Lyons, NJ Type of program: MST Residential Treatment Program Program name: Women’s Treatment Unit Phase of treatment targeted: Emphasis on skill building and trauma processing. Group treatment is central with individual psychotherapy for processing of traumatic material. PE and CPT available. MST-specific treatment available: Program as a whole is devoted to MST treatment. Childhood trauma, combat-related PTSD, and SUD also addressed as needed. Admission criteria: No psychotic symptoms; Not in need of detox from drugs or alcohol; ability to work intensively in group format; no recent violent behavior; cannot present as danger to self or others; must be able to manage own medications; must be medically stable. Treat both men and women? Women only. Rolling vs cohort admissions & length of program: Rolling admissions. Average length of stay 6-8 weeks Contact information: Suzanne Loftus, Psy.D. – (908) 647-0180 ext 5896

VISN 5 Facility: VA Maryland HCS/Baltimore Division (Baltimore, MD) Type of program: Psychosocial Residential Rehabilitation Treatment Program with Focus on Comorbid PTSD & Substance Use Disorders Program name: Dual Diagnosis PTSD/Substance Abuse PRRTP Phase of treatment targeted: Flexible, ranges from psychoeducation and skill-development to trauma processing. MST-specific treatment available: Multiple staff members with expertise in treating sexual trauma using empirically supported treatments. Individual and group therapy. Notable admission criteria: PTSD and substance abuse/dependence; prefer 30 days sobriety and that have had at least one significant period of sobriety within the past year; ability to function independently in daily life; psychiatrically and medically stable. Treat both men and women? Yes. Have both mixed and single-sex groups. Women stay in individual rooms with private, non-attached bathrooms. Rolling vs cohort admissions & length of program: Rolling admissions. 45 – 56 day stay. Contact information: Lorie Morris, Psy.D. — (410) 605-7418;

VISN 7 Facility: Augusta VAMC (Augusta, GA) Type of program: MST Clinic in conjunction with Domiciliary Residential Rehabilitation and Treatment Program Program name: MST Clinic & Domiciliary Residential Rehabilitation and Treatment Program Phase of treatment targeted: Emphasis on trauma processing. MST-specific treatment available: Veterans receive therapy through the outpatient MST clinic where staff have expertise in the treatment of sexual trauma. Notable admission criteria: No pending legal issues; no physical assaults in past six months; current sobriety; not taking any controlled medications more than two times/day. Treat both men and women? Yes. Women stay in lockable two- to four-person rooms. Some women-only groups, but others are mixed-sex. Rolling vs cohort admissions & length of program: Rolling admissions. Length of stay for up to 120 days. Contact information: Lorraine Braswell, Ph.D. — (706) 733-0188 x7735;

VISN 8 Facility: Bay Pines VAHCS (Bay Pines, FL) Type of program: MST Residential Program Program name: Center for Sexual Trauma Services, Residential Program Phase of treatment targeted: Emphasis on trauma work. MST-specific treatment available: Program as a whole is devoted to MST treatment. Patients are assigned a primary therapist who works with them to plan treatment based on individual needs and strengths. Treatment interventions may include Prolonged Exposure, Cognitive Processing Therapy, Skills Training, CBT Group, Therapeutic Recreation, Patient Education and other interventions. Notable admission criteria: History of MST (though can focus on any sexual trauma while in the program); cannot present a danger to self or others and must be able to manage the residential environment. Treat both men and women? Yes. Roommates are same-sex, but men and women are housed in the same area of the Dom and share the common living areas. Rolling vs cohort admissions & length of program: Rolling admissions; variable length of stay based on the individual’s treatment plan. Contact information: Judith Connelly, PsyD. (727) 398-6661, x 7297; or Carol O’Brien, Ph.D. – (727) 398-6661 x7381;

 VISN 10 Facility: Cincinnati VAMC (Cincinnati, OH) Type of program: PTSD Day Hospital with lodging Program name: Residential PTSD Program Phase of treatment targeted: Emphasis on trauma processing. MST-specific treatment available: Most staff have expertise in sexual trauma. Individual and group treatment; veterans working on sexual trauma get one extra individual therapy session a week as needed. Notable admission criteria: PTSD; 30 days sobriety (will, however, take veterans on benzodiazepines and/or methadone); no active mania or psychosis; no medical or legal issues; no registered sex offenders; able to tolerate group treatment and share trauma accounts in individual therapy. Treat both men and women? Yes. Men and women with separate living areas but eat in the cafeteria together. No mixed-sex therapy groups. Rolling vs cohort admissions & length of program: Cohort admissions. Length of stay of 7 weeks. Contact information: For referrals, Jennifer Lewis – (513) 861-3100 x3310;

VISN 12 Facility: Clement J. Zablocki VAMC (Milwaukee, WI) Type of program: PTSD DOM Program name: Rehabilitation and Transition Unit – Trauma Track Phase of treatment targeted: Flexible, depends upon veterans’ previous trauma work. MST-specific treatment available: Staff with expertise in sexual trauma by virtue of the high prevalence of it in the program. Veterans attend general programming but individual and group treatment would be focused on the sexual trauma. Notable admission criteria: 30 days sobriety; need to be capable of independent living and able to manage living with others. Treat both men and women? Yes. Mixed-sex groups and living arrangements. One all-female support group where all participants have a history of sexual trauma. Rolling vs cohort admissions & length of program: Rolling admissions. Length of stay of 6-9 months. Contact information: For referrals, Katie DeYoung at the Central Intake Unit – (414) 384-2000 x 41986. For more information, Vickie Wiese, Ph.D. — x 42367; Facility: North Chicago VAMC (North Chicago, IL) Type of program: PTSD Residential Rehabilitation Program Program name: Stress Disorder Treatment Unit Phase of treatment targeted: Flexible, from skills building to trauma processing. MST-specific treatment available: Individual therapy; clinicians have developed expertise in working with MST, given the number of sexual trauma cases they tend to see. Notable admission criteria: Combat-related PTSD (combat broadly defined); SC for PTSD; minimum 30 days sobriety; medically stable; no active suicidal ideation in the past 60 days; admission can’t be court-related; must be in outpatient treatment; prefer no benzodiazepines or anti-psychotic medications. Current PTSD symptoms must be too severe to be treated on an outpatient basis. Treat both men and women? Yes. Women with private room, but men and women participate in groups together. Rolling vs cohort admissions & length of program: Rolling admissions. Length of stay varies but average is around 35 days. Contact information: Karen Paddock – (847) 688-1900 x 83312;

 VISN 15 Facility: VA Eastern Kansas HCS/Topeka Division (Topeka, KS) Type of program: Specialized Inpatient PTSD Unit Program name: Stress Disorder Treatment Program Phase of treatment targeted: Ranges from skill building to trauma processing. MST-specific treatment available: Though have ongoing admissions, try to cluster individuals with sexual trauma-related issues into “mini-cohorts.” Staff with training in treatment of sexual trauma. Notable admission criteria: 30 days sobriety; military trauma of some type; treatment can’t be court-ordered; no acute suicidal or homicidal ideation; no acute psychosis. Treat both men and women? Yes, but see relatively few women. Women and men are potentially, but not necessarily, in the same cohort. They participate in psychoeducational groups together but decisions about participation in trauma processing groups together are made on a case by case basis, depending on the size of the female mini-cohort. Women room together as appropriate but typically have private rooms with their own bathroom. Rolling vs cohort admissions & length of program: Rolling admissions. Length of stay of 7 weeks. Contact information: For referrals, Terry Falck, M.A. – (785) 350-3111 x 52139; for more information, Jonathan Farrell-Higgins, Ph.D. – x 52118;

VISN 17 Facility: Central Texas Veterans HCS (Temple, TX) Type of program: MST Residential Treatment Program Program name: Women’s Trauma Recovery Center Phase of treatment targeted: Emphasis on trauma processing. MST-specific treatment available: Program as a whole is devoted to MST treatment. Notable admission criteria: History of sexual assault or attempted sexual assault while in military (for recently deployed women, sexual harassment only with a history of other military trauma is acceptable); no substance abuse for past 30 days; no suicidal or para-suicidal behavior for past 30 days; no acute inpatient psychiatric admission for past 30 days; no uncontrolled mania or psychosis; not significant organic impairment; no ongoing criminal or violent behavior. Treat both men and women? Women only. Rolling vs cohort admissions & length of program: Cohort admissions. Length of stay of 7 weeks. Contact information: Delicia Mclean, Ph.D. – (254) 743-1720;

VISN 21 Facility: VA Palo Alto HCS/Menlo Park Division (Menlo Park, CA) Type of program: PTSD Residential Program Program name: Women’s Trauma Recovery Program (WTRP) Phase of treatment targeted: Two tracks: 1) trauma processing; and 2) intensive skills building. MST-specific treatment available: Staff with expertise in the treatment of sexual trauma, particularly given the high prevalence of sexual trauma among veterans in the program. Notable admission criteria: Alcohol and illegal substance free for 5 days and off of benzodiazepines; problems are primarily due to PTSD; no active psychosis; no unresolved legal issues; no major medical problems that will interfere with participation in program. Treat both men and women? Women only. Rolling vs cohort admissions & length of program: Rolling admissions. 60 day to 90 day length of stay. Contact information: Kristen Marchak, LSW, Admissions Coordinator – (650) 493-5000 x 24692, , Tasha Souter, MD – (650) 493-5000 x23158;; Dorene Loew, PhD – (650) 493-5000 x23237;

VISN 22 Facility: VA Long Beach Healthcare System (Long Beach, CA) Type of program: Sexual Trauma Residential Program Program name: “Renew”; (for information on “Bridges”, see box on ‘rolling vs cohort admissions’) Phase of treatment targeted: Emphasis on skill development and trauma processing. MST-specific treatment available: Program as a whole is devoted to treatment of sexual trauma. Individual and group treatment. Holistic focus. Notable admission criteria: 6 months sobriety; 6 months without psychiatric hospitalization; 6 months without suicide attempt or self-injury; ability to remain for the duration of the program. Treat both men and women? Women only. Rolling vs cohort admissions & length of program: Cohort admissions. Length of stay of 12 weeks. Also, potential for participation in “Bridges”: 12 week, rolling admissions residential and/or outpatient aftercare program consisting of 12 hours/week of community activity and support groups. Contact information: Lori Katz, PhD (program director) — (562) 826-8000 x4380;; or Sandy Dee Hoague (program coordinator) — x4820.

today,and a year ago tomorrow and in between

November 6, 2008

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.

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.

…heading for Washington DC

September 9, 2008

self portrait

Originally uploaded by jayfherron

Yesterday I wrote about anxiety…I had no idea what the day was going to bring. The messenger was the US Postal mail carrier-the message was from the Congress of the United States,the Honorable Ginny Brown-Waite has written inviting me to meet with her and her Chief of Staff in Washington DC. I am going to make the telephone call this morning to arrange an appointment.
Talk about anxiety?
I am a wreck!!

After the initial shock of the reality-I am now needed to buckle to the responsibility of what has finally happened.
I have spent the past three years writing in anger-writing about my life as a male rape survivor,but also about other aspects to rape…it is not a crime limited to gender. I have also been trying to relate how this crime is one which commits continual damage to the victim…even years from it’s first incident. I have also been trying to bring to light that this occurs in the military-and my primary stand has been for our veterans who have been victimized while in military service…have no where to report with confidence to seek their need for medical or financial compensation.

I became angry three years ago when I sat down with a ‘veterans advocate’ in my home county…and telling this ‘advocate’ the details of my story-my personal history I realised I was in the presence of a bigot and a man ignorant of human nature.
Understanding-finally understanding there were many survivors…thousands of survivors of ‘military sexual trauma’ who potentially would have to meet an individual alike my ‘veterans advocate’ and the fact that his choice of words and ignorance was so harmful,I became angry enough to write about it.

It wasn’t at first that I started this ‘blog’…that actually came as an idea a short while after buying this computer.
I had initially bought the machine to write to Congress and it’s members…and to newspapers,and other publications-to 60 Minutes…and other television news programs…to writers,and back to Congress.
The days that I am not writing this blog-or journal…or whatever it has become,I am writing our government,and writing to any who will hear.
And it has come back to me…and responded!

We are going to have a voice,survivors…I am going to relate our story to someone who has interest. Ginny Brown-Waite is on the Committee on Veterans Affairs,and she has invited me to come and share our issues with her…and I am going to go!

I’m exhausted…

July 1, 2008

the door to barracks D
Originally uploaded by jayfherron


This road that I find myself moving down is like any other-a road with two sides.
I lived much of my adult life the survivor of rape. A male survivor. A silent survivor.
My attacks were not in the ordinary-considered innocent such as those that might occur to a bystander or jogger….the random attacks. I was taken to a detention barracks…an innocent sailor of 18 who had done nothing wrong-except perhaps entering the space of my older brother,the very person the Navy sent to ‘arrest’ me. I suppose a rape in a detention center is not as criminal as a rape of someone off a jogging trail,no one seemed to care then.

I’ve written about every bit of this that I can in previous pages of this ‘blog’….something like close to 300 times I’ve sat and written to try to open up the eyes of others and relay the need for changes.
The two sided road that I talk about. The road which one side says men are victims too….the other side saying that veterans are returning home as victims too. Why are they on the same road? Because they are silent victims.

I have had many discussion where a person gives the funny look that responds to a statement like mine…men are victims too?

We are really caught up in this modern time that rape and sexual battery is a crime against woman. How many times do we see an article about the male victim? It must mean there are none…but yet there are. Today the State of Florida intends to execute a male-his crime the rape and murder of an 11 year old boy. I am not pleased at any of this…but yet the statement it makes validates the point I am trying to make-males are victims of rape and sexual assault. Adults listen…rape is an age and gender free crime-it happens to many-and any!!

My other side of the road is about the veterans who have experienced rape and sexual assaults while in active duty in service to our country. A military service functioning to protect values and rights and freedoms….and yet,these crimes happen with in those ranks,yet go silent when the victim is released from duty.
I am personally aware that military sexual assault is not an occasional incident-an article in Army Times provides proof of that.
It rates itself as the top military force which has the most reported cases in 2007. The article claims that 1,516 cases were reported…this is only the Army-and only the reported cases. They also state that 90% of the reported victims were female. That leaves 10%….who must be males. That 10% is a significant number,that means 151 men in the Army must have experienced this violation of their body.,0,5399612.story


A commentary in the Los Angeles Times written by Congresswoman Jane Harmon also speaks of the trauma and reports the Veterans Hospital in Los Angeles are receiving. The numbers are troubling.
That is just one part of the regions…one hospital among the many in the United States Veterans Affairs system. How many have the others counted?

I first am confused by the reluctance for anyone to recognize that men are victims too…and how we can continue with the misconceptions that it is only females that are the victims of rape. I believe people have their heads in their boxes for continually accepting that as a fact… fact-we probably have succeeded in keeping men from reporting these crimes because society has stigmatized sexual crimes as those only against woman,and if it happens to a man the stupidity of others opens up. Such as “heck-if a woman raped me…why should I complain?” or….”gee,you’d never think homosexuals had a need to rape each other!!”,which is a comment made to me by a Florida Department of Veterans Affairs officer.

I never meant to say anything about this-EVER.
When I became a victim I was told to get used to it “where we are sending you you’ll have it made-your dance card is already punched”! That the statement from the investigating officer in the Navy who was the first to see me just shortly after I was raped-his comment alluded to that whatever crime I was supposed to have committed was going to land me in prison for several years…five,if I remember correctly.
I had done nothing-yet this what I got for it….
So I lived in it-accepted it with my arm twisted behind my back. Kept and ordered around by my assailants as if I was a piece property.
I had enlisted in the Navy for honor and respect to my country and do my duty-and this is where my honor got me.
Two months later I received an Honorable Discharge from the United States Navy….honor,after spending those months with my controllers? I have no honor.

I lived with this in my life-my present,everyday. So you must believe me when I speak of ‘trauma’….this morning I woke-38 years later and felt the memory as soon as I made a thought.
Once upon a time about three years ago I was told to get validation I should report this to the Veterans Affairs officer-appeal for benefits “if any one deserves it” I was told….and so I did.
It was there I was met with just as much sympathy as I got the day I was beaten up and my ass hole stretched to last to this day. An advocate for me who was a bigot and made judgements about my lifestyle that did not exist….he thought my assailants must have been blacks-and pondered the wonder of it all in curios stupidity “gee…you never think homosexuals need to rape each other”. That’s what he said.

The road with two sides. The anger inside of me that there is no real number to count the real victims-all of the victims…how many kept quiet like I did. How many were too afraid of the stigma to say this happened.
I can understand-I wish too in many ways I never said a word. Why should I have wanted to? Learning from the beginning that I was supposed to go ahead and get used to it….getting used to it,and silently (yet with a fury inside of me called ‘damage control’) and exercising damage control in all ways like drinking and substance abuse to try to hide from it better. Then finally coming to terms with myself and becoming sober for once….I report to the VA hospital one day and am asked if I am ever depressed-and yes,I am….so they give me pills. The pills made me high almost like a mescaline trip….and yet each morning after using the commode I have this reminder of barracks D,and it is continual cycle for these kind of memories. And the VA’s anser for this was pills and further I am expected to accept a man who is confused as why homosexuals would need to rape each other….and this man is supposed to be my veterans advocate and the pills are supposed to heal me-or do like drugs and booze,help me to forget for a few hours?

You see….something is wrong. We first have a blank section in our knowledge. Men are victims-rape and sexual assault harms us too. I suffer each day from the events that took place from all those years ago….it is something I will never forget.
The fact that it happened while I was trying to do my duty to my country compounds the issue-the hurt from that is larger than you can ever know….but then to be re-injured in my mental state by a such in place professional as the veterans advocate who is confused and has no clue,well….I’m exhausted!

a conference and the anxiety

May 22, 2008


Originally uploaded by jayfherron

This morning begins just as any other morning does with me-the mental inventory begins… the moment I awake I feel an anxiety and a memory of barracks D. I feel the poorness of the way I live and know it is a direct result of the way things happened back then.
I’m not too certain what I can pin point what sets it off-I just know that it strikes me as soon as I can think,as if it just had happened a few weeks ago instead of 37 plus years.
The trip to the toilet marks it for sure-I never miss having to think about it when I do the toilet.

This morning the ‘Sexual Battery Committee of the Gainesville Commission on the Status of Woman’ is presenting the 27th annual conference on ‘sexual battery’ (there we go with that sexual title) -which this years conference is called ‘Pathways to Healing:From Trauma to Recovery’ and involved in this conference is a ‘workshop’ (such interesting names) which is titled ‘Understanding Military Sexual Trauma (MST).
I am trying to build up the mental energy to attend.

I am a a member of ‘The Alachua County Rape and Sexual Assault Advisory Council’ and why I sought to be enlisted to join this group was to seek a stepping stone towards whom can help facilitate a change in how veterans who have been sexually (oh gawd-even I’m using it) assaulted are provided with the proper care when they depart the active role of military and enter civilian life.
My hope for being in this group is to bend enough ears to earn the audience of yet more ears to educate that there is a fault in the Veterans Affairs Administration where those who have been damaged by this crime while in service to the United States military-and citizens.
I am incredibly ashamed to be writing about this. My heart thinks of those who have done battle and have sustained  unbelievable injuries and deservedly should be provided with special care and help through their lives.
But yet,those like myself who walked up to the recruiters office with out any other thought but to enlist and do our part as Americans…we did not anticipate being hurt in this manner by the violence from the hands of one of our own.

There is no way to explain the humiliation it is for me to have every morning begin with the reminders of barracks D. To attend something so personal as ones hygene in something so general and usual as going to the toilet and come out of it with such guilt and emotional hurt….to have every morning begin that way.
And this morning-my anxiety level is on extreme high because I need to attend this conference and sit among a crownd and try to concentreate on the speaker and learn as much as I can.
I need to do this because of there being other veterans who need these changes so they can have justice.
It is ‘homework’ for my building up towards what I hope to present to this ‘advisory council’ I am on.
I don’t think that I’m going to have an easy time. I don’t know where the place is I’m going-although I know it’s in a church,I am postive it is a large building-ugh. But I am extremely hopeful that my mind can concentrate on the task at hand and not fail (and….I can fail).

My experience with the system the Veterans Administration has in the avenue of veterans advocacy is not arranged for the benefit of those who have experienced the crime of rape-or the crime of unwanted advances and touches….there is nothing it appears in place for these silent injured.
My hope is to try to bring awareness that we have a large number of vet’s who have have been harmed and keep quiet because there is no advocacy available for them.

I would have kept all this bottled up and to myself. I sometimes wish I had-now there sets a computer in my house and I am hopeful my words touch the hearts and minds of others and they think about what I am saying and will help bring this voice to a higher set of ears and seek a change in this poor system.

I was sickened when the reality set in as to whom I gave my lifes private history to when I was sent to by my local VA to report the rapes to a veterans advocate-employeed by my local government….the stupidity in his comments about how amazed he was to think that “homosexuals had a need to rape each other”….a comment of great ignorence.
How many more survivors are there?
How many more have to seek the advocacy of someone that bigoted?

I have to shower now-to get ready to attempt to go.
Another place where the reminder comes,the shower-the clean up of my days in barracks D will never stop.