This past year has been an amazing journey writing my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story, and getting it published in November. Since starting the project last December 2010, there have been too many non-coincidental events to ignore, reinforcing the value of outreach through writing, talking, seeking help in healing from long held baggage from experiencing severe trauma; whether it is from child abuse, or combat in war, a horrific accident, rape, or any significant traumatic event in life.
To top off my experiences in healing this past year, my entire extended family gathered in Manhattan Beach, California on December 26, 2011 for the very first time. To say the least, this was a heartwarming and wonderful gift for Christmas that happened in a non-coincidental way. I felt complete on Christmas for the very first time in 40 years spending time with all my daughters, grand children, and their families at one time for a very special brunch at Sloopy’s on the beach on a stretch of coastline where so many fond memories of my past could be revisited. I am very proud of my three daughters, Deanna, Bianca, and Sarah, grand kids, Joey, Mike, Jordan, and Cameryn and their spouses who joined us on this day. It was also a joy seeing Ashley after so many years, who is very much part of our extended family, and meeting grandson Mike’s friend, Rob.
The last paragraph from my book, A New Beginning, holds true by quoting just one sentence. “Writing this story has given me energy, renewed confidence, and a much brighter look into the future.” Happy New Year to all!
Comments: Charlie called me a few weeks ago just as he was walking out of the house to see his physician. He was excited about getting my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story, a signed copy of course. He also wanted to send his grandchildren copies of the book. I didn’t hear back so checked on the blog a week or so ago and noted he was in the hospital. I hated to check back in because my gut was telling me that he may not make it.
Hope he is with my Dad, Vernon H. Sparks, and all his shipmates, who served with him during the USS Belle Grove War Cruise of which is captured in my book. Charlie sent me an email sharing his experience with “Bosn Sparks,” which was very moving and caused me to cry to think about my Dad along with all of his shipmates during this time when the USS Belle Grove spent 25 months at sea in seven campaigns, including Iwo Jima before receiving first liberty. The BG War Cruise map is on the cover of my book and exhibited inside along with a story by Cliff Viereck (edited version approved by Cliff), describing the Iwo Jima invasion.
My family will be forever thankful for Charlie Minter as the only surviving shipmate of Dad while writing my book. I was able to know Charlie following phone conversations and email. I felt close to him because he knew Dad and respected him so much during their time together in WWII..
God bless Charlie Minter.
Steve Sparks Author Reconciliation: A Son’s Story
ps please forward an address so I can send Charlie’s promised signed book from me. It can be passed along to family members to read and treasure for generations to come. Hardcover copies are also available on Amazon.com
The above link takes you to the Huffington Post and an excerpt from a book, I would recommend. Of course, this would be in addition to my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story, a highly recommended read as well. The author looks at returning wounded combat veterans of today and how they adjust to severe injuries and the symptoms of PTSD. I am a big supporter of taking advantage of all the excellent reading and resources possible to become more aware of the crippling symptoms of PTSD. The treatment and medications make you cry instead of being angry. I am experiencing this transition myself. I would rather trade in anger for crying any day of the week. The anger that builds up with PTSD is painful, entirely too painful along with the anxiety that goes with it. Take care.
Welcome Home Veterans! It is wonderful for American’s to see the reunions of veterans coming home from Iraq right now. It was emotional for me to watch this morning. I see this as the best Christmas gift ever for all veterans who have served their country with pride and honor.
After the holidays and adjusting to being home for awhile, all veterans returning home should take advantage of the excellent resources available. Do not hesitate! I was a young man when the Vietnam war ended and recall how awful our veterans were treated when they returned home. Even those of us who were lucky enough to serve in support roles on shore duty during this era, were not treated with the kind of respect and gratitude that is apparent today. I am so proud to still be around to see how our veterans are being honored and supported as they come home.
There will be a time soon to get serious about taking care of business, including yourself and your family. Check out the new site, http://coalitionforveterans.org/2011/09/the-welcome-home-project-presents/ to see how all the resources can help support your goals and needs. I’ve also kept track of many other websites on this blog that offer information and resources. My book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story, is receiving fantastic reviews. And is considered an excellent non-fiction true story of my family’s 70 year struggle with PTSD by helping many veterans and families engage in the realities of moving forward following the horrific experience of extended combat. Another excellent read is War and the Soul, by Edward Tick, Phd. You can order my book from this website by clicking on my book cover above. Get the book as a gift for a veteran close to you. All those who care for and support veterans should read it too!
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all veterans, families, and loved ones. We remember also that your families served too! This is a fabulous celebration of the best America has to offer, and the freedoms we enjoy as a result of veterans who served in all wars.
As related by Military.com the picture is not always on the side of the combat veteran suffering from symptoms of PTSD. Click on the Military.com site reference “Addressing PTSD” to read the entire story. I have heard stories from combat veterans and others who share what they hear. The stigma of mental health disorders is and will be a huge challenge for combat veterans. I remain confident that as the campaign for PTSD awareness gets stronger and the public is educated, including soldiers in combat, and those coming home, will get a fair shake. We need to take the extra time to listen and to ensure that the correct diagnosis and treatment plan is provided. Suicide should never be the final answer! Family and loved ones must be engaged in this effort!
Steve Sparks Author Reconciliation: A Son’s Story
Quoted from Military.com:
“The day before Halloween 2008, Army Pvt. Adam Lieberman swallowed handfuls of prescription pain pills and psychotropic drugs. Then he picked up a can of black paint and smeared onto the wall of his room in the Fort Carson barracks what he thought would be his last words to the world. “I FACED THE ENEMY AND LIVED!” Lieberman painted on the wall in big, black letters. “IT WAS THE DEATH DEALERS THAT TOOK MY LIFE!” Soldiers called Lieberman’s unit, the 1st Battalion, 67th Armored Regiment, the Death Dealers. Adam suffered serious mental health problems after a year of combat in Iraq. The Army, however, blamed his problems on a personality disorder, anxiety disorder or alcohol abuse — anything but the war. Instead of receiving treatment from the Army for his war-related problems, Adam faced something more akin to harassment. He was punished and demoted for his bad behavior, but not treated effectively for its cause. The Army’s fervent tough-guy atmosphere discouraged Adam from seeking help. Eventually he saw no other way out. Now, in what was to be his last message, he pointed the finger at the Army for his death.”
This particular group of combat veterans have real stories to tell, including how they were affected individually, the impact on family, and how they coped or did not cope initially. One veteran speaks about how “killing” changes you because humans see killing as wrong. It goes back to the moral compass and how the soul flees the body. Another veteran speaks of his huge challenge with alcohol and the importance of taking the advice of mental health professionals and the “command” in seeking treatment and transition to a happy and healthy civilian life. Continue to listen to more on the effects of war on marriage. Please take the time to see and listen to this excellent CNN report. Read my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and connect the dots with my family’s struggle for 70 years.
From teens, to young adults, to the middle aged and the elderly, and with people from all backgrounds and educational experience, the topic of PTSD connects directly or indirectly. The conversation on December 10, 2011 at Pirate Coffee in Depoe Bay, Oregon was amazing. This was my first book signing event for, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story. My favorite but sad story was told by a caregiver of an 88 year old WWII veteran and former POW who was hiding out with a buddy at a farm in the hills of Tuscany. The family took them in when they escaped from a bus that was transporting them to a POW camp. The farmers who wanted to hide them gave them work and fed them for some time. They both hid out in the barn. Finally, the Germans found out about them and they were captured one day. The heart wrenching part of this story is the German soldiers made the American POW’s watch while they murdered the entire family of the farmers who befriended them and tried to save them from being captured.
This incident lives with this man in his heart to this day, and he has difficulty talking about it even when he feels like it. The strong emotions and extreme sadness is still with him after all these years. He uses art as therapy according to his caregiver for 7 years. She said, “he is such a wonderful man, but lonely, with no family.” She believes he could not enter into a relationship as a result of this experience because he felt so guilty about what happened. This man believes to this day that he is responsible for the killing of this beautiful and wonderful family that tried to save him during that time so long ago.
PTSD takes its toll for a lifetime. Let us not forget the importance of making sure our loved ones returning from war right now get the treatment they need to recover and live a healthy, happy, and fulfilling life like most of us who are blessed with a loving family and friends.
December 10th was my Dad, Vernon’s birthday. He would have been 93. I felt his spirit and know he is proud of me for taking on the cause of PTSD awareness on behalf of thousands of past and present combat veterans who suffer emotionally and physically long after they come home from war.
Seventy years ago today — “a day that will live in infamy” —became a day that Depoe Bay resident Steve Sparks would live with every waking moment of his life. And he wasn’t even born yet.
Author Steve Sparks’ daughter, Bianca Cavello, was the inspiration for his newly published book, “Reconciliation: A Son’s Story,” after she started asking long-held questions about her dad’s childhood and family, including his mother and father.
In my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story, the primary cause of my family’s 70 year struggle with PTSD resulted from toxic home life conditions created by the untreated symptoms of severe “battle fatigue” diagnosed in my father’s case following the end of WWII. Our highly toxic home culture and upbringing effectively passed the symptoms of PTSD to me and my siblings, including our mother. The above website reference helps the reader understand how abused children can acquire the same symptoms as a soldier in combat. It is very personal to me and sad, but we have the opportunity to break the cycle with today’s combat veterans who are suffering with PTSD symptoms by ensuring they are given adequate treatment and loving support.
I write in my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story, how my Dad, Vernon H. Sparks seemed to get worse as the years went by following his return from 66 months of combat at the end of WWII. He didn’t get a whole lot of support from his family. No one understood. They thought he was a war hero and could take anything thrown at him. Not so folks! My Dad along with thousands of combat weary veterans since then all need tender loving care (TLC). Keep this in mind when you begin helping your loved ones transition back to civilian life. Don’t ignore them or avoid talking to them. They will not talk about their experiences unless you take a step to hear them out and listen. That’s right, LISTEN.
Check out the About.com website above and learn more.