Deported US Army vet blinded, injured in shelter

May 19, 2017
Michael Hylton talks about his ordeal.
Hylton shows a photo of his unit when he served in the US army.

A former United States Army veteran, who was deported to Jamaica two years ago, said he has been facing unimaginable horrors living in state shelters, and he is imploring authorities to examine the system.

Michael Hylton, 56, said he was left blind in one eye and sustained a wound to his head during an attack at one of the shelters, and had to spend multiple days in hospital.

He said his case is not an isolated incident and he wants to system to be improved so others do not meet the same fate.

"I see a guy trying to abuse a female. I was talking to this individual about what he did, and I turned to walk away, and the next thing I knew, I was in the hospital for three days. I lost sight in one eye and I have seven stitches in my head," Hylton said.

He said when he reported the ordeal at the shelter, the overseer only told him to mind his business next time. The incident was also reported to the police, but nothing has come of it.

Traumatised, Hylton said he reported the matter to the parish council and sought refuge at another shelter. But things didn't improve.

"After that, I still faced other incidents. A guy that lives at the shelter, he is known for robbing people. He tried to rob me twice. He hit me in my chest with a knife. How I can be in a place where someone goes around and rob people when he wants money for crack?" Hylton bemoaned.

He said he and other residents have also suffered abuse from staff, but reports to the parish council have been in vain.

Now fed up with the shelters, Hylton said he is living on the streets and sleeping in a food vendor's stall in Kingston.

He said he has also sought help from an agency that assists deportees with housing and jobs. To date, nothing has come of it.

He explained that he migrated to the US at age 19 when his mother filed for him and his siblings. He then got enlisted in the army, where he served from 1983 to 1984, then received an honourable discharge.

He said he later had some run-ins with the law, including selling marijuana, and was deported. He said he has no friends or family in the island and his mother, who is still overseas, is not in a position to help him.

To survive, Hylton says he goes around helping persons in the market, in exchange for a small stipend or food.

"I've got an education, I can work, I graduated from high school, I can cook. I'm willing to work. I just want to get something done to be independent, that's my goal," he told THE WEEKEND STAR.

Anyone wishing to assist Hylton may contact his colleague, David Cooper at 530 3873).

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