Posts Tagged ‘veterans affairs’

barracks D drawing

November 20, 2009

barracks D drawing
Originally uploaded by jayfherron


This is not easy to do. Trying to relate everything from the past 40 years into just a page of words-the right words….and,to tell the things on your mind in just a few hours of just a few days-to relate the pain and describe the losses or explain the fears. No-none of it is easy.


I used to leave the visits with my former therapist (Charlotte-at the VA)
and would feel like I was walking through mud about waist deep.The feeling came from the exhaustion from the work of telling my story…to the first person who ever wanted to listen. You have to understand carrying over 35 years of personal torment by yourself-to finally release it was the work and the results have been difficult but there.


I am tired like that today-I spent the past Tuesday and Wednesday telling my story again, being recorded and filmed, and learning some had not been recorded, so…telling my story again,being recorded and filmed. Today is Friday and my body is feeling better. Yesterday I could hardly move. Today I still feel worn-but I also feel power in what has just happened this past week.


I have never found trust in anybody in my life until I met Charlotte B. (my VA therapist) I know it took a while at first but the way she remembered such odd details about what I had began telling her showed me this was someone who cared-for real cared!


All of that has been broken somehow-as if it is a must in the usual way my life goes. An odd thing is as is all of the ways the road turns is-while visiting my Navy son in Pearl Harbor I learned of a woman who was doing an article for National Geographic. Her topic was ‘military sexual trauma’ and how it effected woman veterans who have been traumatized. I telephoned her and asked “why just woman”?


Unfortunantly…the artcle went along the wayside because the magazine lost interest-but the journalist did not. She and her photographer friend have continued the project out of pocket…and out of pocket they traveled here to Florida and now I must say how proud I am to know these two ladies.


They came here and listened. They came here because they know wrong is being done and silence is there because so many are afraid to come forward.


I was raped in a detention barracks-and no one cared. I lived for 30 some odd years before anyone did. Feeling good about this person believing me I followed the suggestion that I deserve veterans disability for PTSD due to MST (military sexual trauma). Reporting the circumstances to the DVA (Division of Veterans Affairs) officer in my home county I was responded to with comments of bigotry and ignorance. I felt violated again-and by now knowing I am not the only veteran this has happened to…I began writing about my life as a veteran who has felt no honor and about the life I have had. Good or bad. It has not been all that good,but there are places!


I also began writing to anyone who could help make a change. I cannot tell you the feeling the body and soul of a rape survivor has-the shame and guilt that should not even be there-but is. And the filth…it is always there in memory. I wrote Congressman and woman-and Senators. To the best of my ability to find contact information. Some responded-Congresswoman Ginnie Brown-Waite was going to meet me and talk about changes for veterans rights…veterans of MST. She does not have a seat on the veterans committee any more-as it was conveyed by her office to me. Veterans civil rights are being covered up and a US Congresswoman says it is no longer her job?


I wrote Senator Bill Nelson from Florida. His Chief of Staff contacted me-we exchanged telephone calls a few times and a few emails…and then a few emails he had not responded to. And…no more contact with Senator Bill Nelson.


Two woman hear a persons story one day. That persons story was about MST and that persons account of how life living with the troubles PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) that make the lives of us survivors miserable. I am in awe as to how that has become a personal project of these two-to me they are heros. Our Congress are elected to serve us. Our Senate is elected to serve us. MST survivors are not a ‘big interest’. We offer no cash return. We are not deserving of a parade or any recoginition…in fact-I think they’d rather us go away-we are not the returning troops they want to laude and salute. We are wounded-but expected to stay silent. We have not had service from these elected Congress persons and Senators like the service we VOLUNTEERED to do!…and to do for our country.


I ramble when I am tired. I am tired today-but this wave of fatigue is so worth it. The story of MILITARY SEXUAL TRAUMA must be told-the problems that come with it must be exposed…and all of it must be changed. It is wrong for a young man to grow up in a foreign country and all of his life to desire to be an American…he grows up and enlists in the US Marines-there the prejudice of others led to the attacks that changed his life. A young man giving of himself for countryman of a country not yet his because he hopes to earn his citizenship in exchange for volunteering to defend the country he wants so much to be a citizen of. And this is what he earns? I weep thinking of this mans story-it breaks my heart so.


I too wanted to serve. My draft card was returned the day I volunteered to enter the United States Navy…I wanted to do my duty and once in the Navy-I wanted to be there forever. Another form of prejudice ended that…a form of jealousy-perhaps it could be called brotherly hate. I never will be sure. Months after my enlistment I was discharged with an ‘honorable discharge’…except I’ve never felt any honor.


I am very thankful for these two ladies…Lynn and Ann. They weren’t elected-no one hired them….they just heard one story of MST and from that one story came a seed-and that seed is growing into a vine that is soon going to grow into a tree-a solid solid hunk of timber,un-moveable-unable to ignore. The wind going through the leaves of this tree will be the voices of survivors and they will not be unheard-I know this.


I just have one last thing to say-I want to remember the lost on the USS IOWA and how the US Navy tried to cover up and twist truth to blame one man-one sailor who loved the Navy and was dishonored by them(the Navy claimed falsely that the sailor was ‘homosexual’ and detonated a bomb to seek revenge for a jilted love-ALL FALSE)…. 47 men died at the fault of poorly maintained equipment.If they can try to cover up this…you know they will do it elsewhere!

The Navy acknowledged the explosion was an accident due to faulty equipment-but they NEVER apologized for falsely accussing the young sailor-he died in the explosion too.



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!