Following is an excerpt from my book, Reconciliation, A Son’s Story.
“This man (Vernon H. Sparks, BMC, US Navy) was admitted to the sick list on July 23,1945 at the USNT&DC, Shoemaker, California, with combat fatigue, complaining of nervousness and irritability, and he was transferred here the same date. According to the man’s statement, accepted by the board, he was in good health until the onset of his present symptoms. He was aboard the USS West Virginia, torpedoed at Pearl Harbor, and was trapped below decks but worked his way clear and swam under burning oil to get away from the ship. Since that time he has been moderately apprehensive while at sea and his symptoms became aggravated during the 7 Pacific invasions with ‘general quarters practically all the time.’ He returned to the mainland in June 1945, and all symptoms have subsided since admission, with psychotherapy and reassurance. The physical examination and all indicated special studies are negative for essential organic pathology. The psychiatric examination reveals a subsiding fatigue state in a previously stable individual with good insight and excellent service motivation.” From my own perspective, and considering the standard mental health medical treatment procedures of the time, I can imagine that this was a very scary place for Dad to spend six weeks until released in September 1945.”
Following is the specific diagnosis of Vernon H. Sparks: “Combat Fatigue, #2171 Origin: Not Misconduct. Tense, nervous, anxious, has shoulder that is easily dislocated. Symptoms came on while at sea, tour of duty 66 months ending some 6 weeks ago. Sleeps poorly, wakens often, nightmares of combat. Appetite is variable. He is sensitive to noise and crowds. Startle Reaction. He is moody at times. Not suicidal. He is fatigued.”
Dad was released from the hospital and returned to duty on September 6, 1945. All of these symptoms are included in the modern set of symptoms referred to as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Dad was severely damaged emotionally during his extended combat experience during WWII. Dad came home a different man, who needed extensive treatment for a condition that was not well understood at the time.
Following is an excerpt from my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.
“It’s dumbfounding to understand just how much damage can be done by one human being. One thing I try to remember about humans is this: one person can change history by a negative choice and one person change history with a good choice. Choosing to heal is a good choice. It helps change life for you now and in the future. It prevents unnecessary pain for yourself and others. It heals you, it helps heal others. Your choice to reach out is a good choice as well and it matters.” F. Magdalene Austin
“I took this quote from an article, “What are Your Hyper Vigilance and Hyper Arousal Symptoms?” published by Sundrip Journals. It clearly reinforces my desire and that of others to reach out, share, and heal from traumatic events that result in suffering from the symptoms of PTSD. So far my knowledge of the subject is exponentially larger than before, and knowing more about my past and current behaviors allows a form of treatment for healing and to mitigate certain behaviors that are actually over the top. My intensity works well in a sales type environment where my career flourished over the years. But working with a board in a non-profit and social services culture is not conducive to excessive intensity caused by hyper vigilance & hyper arousal. You simply push people away and make them nervous or resentful or they feel threatened. This has been a career long behavior in my experience, working very well and effectively in a competitive highly intense and sense of urgency culture, that being sales & marketing. But it can be troublesome and potentially destructive behavior in a less intense world of people focused on a kinder and gentler daily life style. And on a personal level, my wife, Judy, has helped me to become more tolerant of others who are less intense because that is who she is or who they are. It’s helped me to diffuse the “over the top” intensity referred to and shows how important it is to have a support system that can tolerate and coach a person suffering from PTSD symptoms, specifically those referred to here.” Click http://www.redbubble.com/people/sundrip/art/2240201-ptsd to see F. Magdalene Austin’s beautiful and thought provoking art.
As Laura recalls, Sheryl, her Mom, Dad and sister lived in a beautiful Spanish adobe style home in the San Fernando Valley. The home was surrounded by perfect manicured landscaping with gorgeous old trees, flowering shrubbery, and perfect green lawns. All the homes on the street were different however large and elegant. The windows were round with iron bars, ceilings with open beams like the old Spanish California missions that Mother insisted we tour in our Family travels.