Monthly Archives: October 2011

Our nation must take on-going responsiblity for returning combat veterans who suffer from the symptoms of PTSD!

War and the Soul, by Edward Tick, PH.D., continues to get my attention.  As we think about the many combat veterans preparing to return home during the coming weeks, the following quote from the book is most appropriate.

“Our society must accept the responsibility for its war making.  To the returning veteran, our leaders and people must say, “You did this in our name and because you were subject to our orders.  We lift the burden of your actions from you and take it onto our shoulders.  We are responsible for you, for what you did, and for the consequences.”

As my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story, describes 7 decades of family struggle with the legacy of war and PTSD, we have not done enough as a nation to accept responsibility.  We have to do this in our own communities across the nation as did the communities of warriors of early times.  We have to help them heal and transition back to society to live a normal, healthy, and successful life.  We can’t just go about our business as usual following the brief celebrations when our heroes return home.  Otherwise, the consequences to the veteran and to the families who love them become a legacy of war that lives on for generations.

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

A must read on PTSD, War and the Soul, by Edward Tick, PH.D.

I was continually stunned while doing the research on my own book and family story, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  The referenced book, War and the Soul, gave me pause again and connected the dots.  Following is a quote from the last paragraph in this powerful story of insight and healing.

“We must return our charges – our children and our veterans, our deeds and our dreams, our soldiers and our adversaries – to the path of the mystic warrior.  And we must do so in the name of healing, reconciliation, and restoration.  We must make the pursuit of peace as mythic as the pursuit of war has been.  The fate of our world depends upon how we successfully we undertake and carry through this great task.”

We are all responsible for our wars in the context of supporting the health of each and every returning combat or non-combat veteran suffering from the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  We especially need to protect our children so that they do not enter society afraid, insecure, and without a true moral compass, resulting from exposure to a toxic home life that often persists when parents return home from war with a PTSD diagnosis.

Steve Sparks

Websites for ordering, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story, by Steve Sparks; reviews included.

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/reconciliation-a-sons-story?keyword=reconciliation+a+sons+story&store=ebook

http://www.amazon.com/Reconciliation-A-Sons-Story-ebook/dp/B005XMAB2W/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1319164095&sr=1-1

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ibooks/id364709193?mt=8 

Google eBook ordering website coming soon.

Overview

In a new ground breaking memoir, “Reconciliation: A Son’s Story”, the author reflects back on his father’s war time experiences as the context underlying his own family dynamics and abuse. Through the author’s research and study of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, he comes to an understanding of his father’s behavior and how this deeply impacted the family which eventually leads to healing.

This is a true American story about father who went to war and came back changed by what he saw and by what he experienced. How this impacted his family was profound, yet unrecognized for what it was back then. Today we know much more about the effects of PTSD on the individual, but what about the family members closest to that person? This story of living through a toxic environment yet ultimately coming to an understanding leads to the long sought reconciliation of a son with his father.

A very timely book, this may help the thousands of families of veterans of our own current generation returning from their war experiences to better understand the effects of PTSD on the family.

Old friend Les Mathson tells story about his US Army combat experience in Viet Nam and the challenge of transition once back home.

This story is another reminder of how important it is for all combat veterans to receive help in the transition when returning home.  As my book, Reconciliation, A Son’s Story, will be published soon, emails from old friends and others concerned about PTSD will be posted with permission.  Direct comments can also be included following the posting.

Steve,
Being near combat and in some cases real close to it in VietNam I can’t imagine what the guys who were actually out in the jungle on patrols and fighting hand to hand combat with the VC had to go through.  I also know that when I came home from Nam, one day you were there and three days later you were mustered out of the US Army walking the streets at home.  This was surreal after fearing for your life everyday while you’re there.  I was in Quin Nhon which was a seaport city on the South China sea where all the supplies arrived via shipor at the airport and then transported on Convoys to go up to the DMZ.  So we had all the oil and gas storage tanks and ammunition dumps there, hospital, treated drinking water, radio station, etc.   So, every night I was there for 345 days we got hit with rockets.  We used to hate to see the sun go down because you knew the rocket attacks were coming and a few times the rockets hit in our compound and blew us literally out of our bunks. It took me a year to get over hitting the ground when hearing a loud noise, it was just a reflex. Thank God I didn’t come home with any serious effects of PTSD or beat or abuse my wife and kids.  I credit my faith in the Lord for that, he was there with me the whole time although prayer never left me day in and day out.  Les

Your loved one just returned home from combat duty alive, but was diagnosed with the invisible wound, PTSD. What is your loving and supportive role now?

Following is an excerpt from my soon to be published book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.
“Your loved ones sometimes come home a different person than they were when they left for combat duty.   What can you do now to help them transition back to living a full and productive life?  What can you and other family members do to give them comfort and relief from the terrible anxiety and fears they are living with?  How do we become paraprofessionals in the mental health business?  We have to change, and change is hard.  We need more education.  We need more coping skills.  We need to find patience and love.  We need to use outside resources more effectively.  We need to recognize symptoms and treat symptoms.  War is our legacy too.  We “served” as family members.  Now it is your turn to fight, a fight that will return your loved one to the person you once knew or to coach them to manage their lives differently and to make adjustments.  They put their life at risk and survived; the least we can do is to give them the strength to live on.   More importantly, as a loving family member or friend, your commitment and effort could save your life and prevent you from acquiring the same symptoms of PTSD, making this tragedy an intergenerational challenge.”

WWII Combat Veterans lived most of their lives without treatment for PTSD, which affected the families who served.

This posting is a result of a request from the Wounded Warrior Project.

by Steve Sparks on Friday, October 7, 2011 at 7:44am
My father, Vernon H. Sparks (1918-1998) BMC Retired US Navy survived Pearl Harbor on board the USS West Virginia on December 7, 1941 and later served aboard the USS Bellegrove in the Asiatic Pacific Theater. Dad’s medical records show 66 months of continuous combat duty starting prior to WWII in China through the summer of 1945. He came home a different person. He was admitted almost immediately to a treatment center near Oakland, Ca for almost two months, then sent on his way without further treatment. Dad’s only medication was alcohol until his later years when medications and treatment became more available. In the meantime, our entire family became exposed and lived with the baggage of intergenerational PTSD. This is a terrible and tragic legacy of war that must be addressed. No one should be in denial or fear treatment because of the mental health sigma. My book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story, will be published in November, which is a testimonial and case study of the pain caused to families living with PTSD. See my blog www.livingwithptsd-sparkles.blogspot.com.
If there is anything, yes anything I can do to help with the awareness campaign on behalf of my family and countless others, I stand ready to go anywhere, anytime to help carry the message and represent this cause. We have to work harder to help combat veterans as well as their families who serve too.
Steve Sparks
Depoe Bay, Oregon

Medical records as far back as the Civil War show symptoms of PTSD

Following is an excerpt from my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story, to be published in November 2011.
Evolution of PTSD
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is not new research or discovery.  In 1993, the Dept of Veterans Affairs raised questions about mental health issues in previous wars.  A study was initiated using records from doctors who had participated in a war as far back as the Civil War.
The list of syndromes and disorders include,
·        U.S. Civil War – Irritable Heart and Nostalgia
·        WWI – Effort syndrome/Soldier’s Heart and Shell Shock
·        WWII/Korea – Effort Syndrome and Battle Fatigue/Combat Exhaustion (acute combat stress reaction)
·        Vietnam War – Agent Orange Exposure and Post Vietnam syndrome (PTSD)
·        Gulf War – Gulf War syndrome and adjustment reaction/PTSD
The study showed that in all these cases varied psychiatric illnesses persisted following each war and often during the wars with PTSD representing the larger umbrella of symptoms discussed in this story.  All of the syndromes shared common symptoms, including fatigue, shortness of breath, headache, sleep disturbances, forgetfulness, and difficulty concentrating.  There is also a long history of government concern for veterans who experienced unexplained symptoms.  And there has been an effort by the government to set-up specialized health care centers, conduct research, and compensate veterans.  It was also reported in cases of Israeli soldiers that there were similar psychological problems among family members, an initial indication of the intergenerational impact of PTSD, the subject of this story.  Follow-up studies were also conducted using British military health records showing similar symptom clusters.
It was only after Vietnam that the government launched more aggressive research and defined all these syndromes and symptoms into one category, PTSD.  The majority of veterans in most previous wars starting with Vietnam ended up returning home without adequate diagnosis and treatment, leaving our combat soldiers to experiment on their own, which often led to a toxic culture at home and subsequent trauma experienced by family members.