Monthly Archives: January 2012

PTSD therapy with live music makes a difference in a hospital atmosphere.

http://www.wenatcheeworld.com/news/2012/jan/19/live-music-makes-big-difference-with-ptsd/       

“Veterans Affairs hospital in Fresno has found a way to make the experience easier: live music.
A musician playing amid the hustle and bustle is familiar to anyone who has ever sat at a cafe with entertainment or taken the subway. But this has proved to be more. The hospital set out to provide simple distraction, but soon doctors noticed a marked improvement in many of their patients, especially those with post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain.”

I received the above link from close friend Werner Janssen who has been learning about the value of music in therapy.  In this case, music is being used as a way to calm veterans in a hospital setting.  Scientists are learning more about using music in autism spectrum research as well.  This is another example of new therapies such as yoga and music that can be used to supplement or complement other mental health treatments based on a patients individual needs and physician recommendations.

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

Hugo Patricinio, a Marine based in South Florida is interviewed regarding the benefits of Yoga to treat PTSD anger and insomnia symptoms.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_SF-o9XdAI&feature=youtu.be. Select and go to this site showing how yoga  helps returning combat veterans heal from the symptoms of PTSD.  It warms my heart to see and listen to the YouTube video interview with Hugo Patricinio.  It is amazing to hear about his commitment to yoga and the results.  What captured my attention is how yoga helped him relieve anger and insomnia, two of the most troublesome symptoms of PTSD.  What is really encouraging is the benefits of yoga have nothing to do with medications.  With professional assistance from a yoga trainer, Hugo maximized his experience and minimized the potential of injury.  In my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story, it is clear that PTSD can become a lifetime of pain when a family lives without the knowledge and accessibility of consistent treatment plans, including yoga, psychotherapy, and medications recommended by mental health professionals.

Thanks to Denise Dallas for sharing this video with me on Facebook so that the reach of this information can be extended to a wider audience.

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

Yoga has become an excellent choice for therapy among combat veterans transitioning back to civilian life.

  • Following is a posting from Denise Dallas, a Yoga Artist from Florida, who works with veterans suffering from the symptoms of PTSD.  I have maintained a pretty good health regimen most of my adult life, especially running, hiking, skiing, surfing, etc.  These days walking is the most friendly or working out on a treadmill.  I plan to start yoga with my wife, Judy, at the earliest convenience.  I am convinced, from keeping up the work and passion of Ms. Dallas, that yoga  clearly has much potential as treatment therapy for PTSD.  In treating my own symptoms over the years, physical exercise has always been an important ingredient to help keep me calm, relieve stress, and create a sense of well being.  In my view yoga is yet another way to enhance the benefits of a consistent “body-centered” health regimen.


    Connected Warriors yoga work is for all military, veterans & family members.  Some incoming “students” may comprehend their own stored trauma of a lifetime and some will have diagnoses of PTS or PTSD. Yet, a service member does not need to be diagnosed or even acknowledge “Post-Traumatic Stress ” as a component of their life to decide to begin a Connected Warriors Yoga practice.  Connected Warriors class teachers, and Denise in her private practice (yoga therapy, breath work, body-work), meet individual students where they are, at the moment they show up.   With her own extensive background, Denise guides students through the transformations that occur during & throughout “post traumatic growth.” And, Connected Warriors Yoga does include a trauma-sensitive portion in the teacher training.

    Denise’s passion for yoga and volunteer work with combat veterans of any age is heartwarming.  She is doing her part in a major way to help veterans transition to civilian life with a healthier mind and body.  Check out  Connected Warriors Yoga, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Anuttara-Yoga-Shala/116045404901#!/ConnectedWarriorsYoga.


    Steve Sparks
    Author
    Reconciliation, A Son’s Story 

    POST-TRAUMATIC GROWTH which almost all persons engage in is addressed in this piece. Healthful, sound, safe, body-centered therapies & processes such as Yoga, Conscious Breath and even nutritional changes, which address the WHOLE person, are necessary to refining a well-lived life.
    Lilly Bechtel interviewing Hugo Patrocinio (Miami based) on POST-TRAUMATIC Growth,
    “Post-Traumatic growth is how anyone grows, as a person, as a human being, from something they can’t see the meaning of at first. That is what yoga offered me- the chance to grow out of what I didn’t understand. And that’s why I’m so intimately involved with veterans learning this practice or at least being exposed to it, so that they can grow from an experience, out of what they may otherwise see as meaningless.”

    www.elephantjournal.com

    Because there’s no magic pill, there’s not even a magic pose, that’s going to erase your past, that’s going to bring your friends back. But there’s definitely things that we can learn that can teach us how to cope with what we lived, what we lost. And that acceptance, to live with what I have lost, …

PTSD growing problem per CNN report! “It’s embedded in (the service member) to do that,” Meshad said. “It looks brutal, it is brutal, it’s horrible, it’s heinous, but they switch on like that because they haven’t been switched off.”

http://www.cnn.com/2012/01/17/us/veterans-violence/index.html

CNN reports in above follow-up link on the recent Rainier National Park Ranger killing by a former Iraq combat veteran.  They really have a hard time “turning off the switch” following hard combat and stress connected with weeks and months doing and seeing horrific in-human actions.  I have posted several times regarding the “soul leaving the body” per Dr. Edward Tick’s book, War and the Soul.  My book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story, shows how my Dad, Vernon could not put his pain in check creating a highly toxic home culture.  In Laura Hillebrand’s book, Unbroken, WWII Pacific POW’s lived with PTSD for a lifetime.  The only way to get a handle on the problem is to create the kind of discipline in civilian life that effectively “turns off the switch” for combat veterans who suffer from the symptoms of PTSD.  All of this will happen eventually with continued focus and awareness.  In the meantime, the problem grows and the incidents of acting out and abuse will continue.  Listen to your loved ones and friends who return from combat.  Even though the problem is often invisible, these individuals are in great pain most of the time unless they seek out consistent treatment with appropriate medications and psychotherapy.

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

“In one study, more than 85% of former Pacific War POW’s have PTSD forty years after WWII!” (Reference page 346-7, Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand.)

I am recommending another book, Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand.  In this story, the heroism and experiences of men who served in the Army Air Corp, including former USC track star and 1936 Olympian, Louie Zamperini, reinforced my strong respect for all veterans of wars, especially those who served during WWII.  What is especially tragic, and lives on today as a legacy of war, are the widespread and invisible emotional consequences, including severe symptoms of PTSD.  The Pacific POW’s who survived air, sea, and ground combat, and sometimes many weeks of survival at sea, also endured brutal and horrific treatment in Japanese POW camps.  The data from research referenced in the book shows lives ruined and tormented, including suffering by loved ones.

In my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story, my Dad, Vernon, was affected the same way, and this is just one family’s experience with PTSD over many decades following WWII.  The inter-generational consequences with the children of WWII veterans and subsequent wars cannot be ignored.  We all continue to live with PTSD and the treatment required to maintain a stable and healthy life as individuals and in loving relationships.

I am thankful that PTSD is getting so much attention and more commitment to research as announced by First Lady, Michelle Obama, last week.  My goal with this blog and book is to support the campaign for PTSD awareness.  I highly recommend Unbroken, by Laura Hillebrand, as an excellent read and resource in understanding the roots and implications of PTSD often suffered by combat veterans and their families for a lifetime.  Go to www.unbrokern-book.com, www.laurahillenbrandbooks.com.

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

“Discipline” at issue with debate regarding Marine urination video. What happens to accountability and discipline when combat veterans return home with a diagnosis of PTSD?

All you have to do is read my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story, or Dr. Edward Tick’s War and the Soul along with many other historical records to know that war is horrific!  Terrible things happen to men and women in combat.  Our human instincts are compromised, our moral compass gets out of balance, our soul “leaves the body.”  Combat veterans often find anger is a way to release the emotions that build up as a result of combat.  These are all highly recognized as symptoms of PTSD behavior.  While Marines are highly disciplined and live within a “command control” structure, there is still a high risk of acting out to relieve the pressures of combat and the terrible and inhuman experiences of the young men in this case.  What is worse, urinating on dead bodies in war, or going home without treatment for PTSD and acting out against your family and neighbors?  Having said this, the Marines who participated in this act know they made a mistake and will be disciplined.  But in my view, the act itself is not criminal nor worse than what potentially befalls our heroes when they return home and attempt to transition back into civilian life.  The Marine urination video surfaced and reminds us all of how critical it is to think first before we act, especially in today’s world of Internet access anytime and anywhere.  Although it is clear to me that these young Marines will probably be held accountable following an investigation into this event, my hope is they will be given the benefit of a mental disposition evaluation and help, including a lessons learned action plan to minimize the risk of this sort of unacceptable behavior happening again.  We have to maintain very high standards of discipline in the military at all times.

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation, A Son’s Story

Note to the First Lady regarding my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

First Lady, Michelle Obama,

Thank you for your support of PTSD awareness and advancing the need for additional research.

I am sending my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story by Steve Sparks, published November 2011.  This is a true story about my family’s struggle over a 70 year period with the effects of PTSD that literally destroyed our family.  You can check out my blog www.livingwithptsd-sparkles.blogspot.com while waiting for the mail to arrive with the signed book.  I am happy and proud to share our family story of living and coping with the symptoms of PTSD as a result of my Dad, Vernon H. Sparks’ extended combat duty during WWII.

Warm regards and best wishes,
Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

Michelle Obama Engaged in PTSD Awareness…

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/01/11/first-lady-to-announce-initiative-to-help-veterans-with-ptsd/

The more awareness the better on the subject of PTSD.  With this announcement from the First Lady, millions of Americans will learn more about the tragedy of PTSD, especially on the families that live with this destructive mental illness, often for decades as in the case of my family.  I’m planning to send my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story, to the First Lady to give her a first hand perspective of one family’s struggle over a 70 year period with the untreated and destructive effects of PTSD, following the extended combat duty of my Dad, Vernon, during WWII.

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

“The killing of a park ranger on Mount Rainier, apparently by an Iraq war vet, reminds us all to take care of wounded warriors who may be suffering from PTSD—for everyone’s sake.”

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/01/03/the-killing-of-a-park-ranger-on-mount-rainier-reminds-us-to-help-returning-soldiers.html
On one hand it is not fun to start the New Year engaging in the reality of how troubling PTSD is to returning combat veterans and their families.  But we must be reminded constantly to be vigilant in recognizing the symptoms of PTSD and help those who are in pain to seek treatment.  In this case, former Iraq combat veteran Benjamin Colten Barnes was in real pain since returning from combat duty.  He ended up killing a Mt. Rainier Park Ranger, and was eventually found dead in the wilderness.  Each week it seems there is a story either in the news or not regarding the realities facing some 20% of combat veterans returning home with symptoms of PTSD.  The statistics of high suicide among combat veterans is also painful to think about.  The referenced article is a stark reminder to all of us to be more aware and help where we can.  This is very personal to me since living in a toxic home while growing up with a parent who suffered terribly from symptoms of PTSD.  I write about our family struggle in my book, Reconciliation, A Son’s Story.  Everyone needs to be educated on the subject of PTSD and can learn much from reading my book along with other sources of information on this website.
Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story