Monthly Archives: February 2012

Real Warriors, Real Advice “Hipcast”

http://www.hipcast.com/podcast/HxZmR7bQ

This link is a new resource discovered from my Facebook friend Denise Dallas, Connected Warriors Yoga.  The podcast series provides real conversations with combat veterans and families about the challenges faced in returning home to civilian life.  It is very difficult to begin a conversation with others regarding experiences in combat and the feelings present when returning home with friends and family.  The podcast topics of choice help get the conversation going.  You can pick and choose a title and sit back, listen, and learn.  One example is “Building Resilience“- Developing resilience is an important way to enhance effectiveness and decrease the adverse effects of stress in all aspects of military service.  The site is highly robust and includes audio and video along with a blog.  Please sign up and add this to your resource file.

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

New movie, “Act of Valor” a must see, shows valor of the families and loved ones who serve too!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZnlPgo9TaGo

When the rescue of a kidnapped CIA operative leads to the discovery of a deadly terrorist plot against the U.S., a team of SEALs is dispatched on a worldwide manhunt. As the valiant men of Bandito Platoon race to stop a coordinated attack that could kill and wound thousands of American civilians, they must balance their commitment to country, team and their families back home.

‘Act of Valor’ uses active duty U.S. Navy Seals as actors. The characters they play are fictional, but the weapons and tactics used are real.

This movie is another example of the heroism and skill of US Navy SEALs and shows how the families sacrifice and serve too.  We need to consistently remind ourselves of what families go through while combat veterans are deployed and how they support and help our heroes when they return home; often suffering from symptoms of PTSD and other challenges related to deployment.  Short multiple deployments are typical among SEAL teams and present unique problems for families considering the high risk of the very dangerous missions showed in the movie.


A must see movie!


Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

Sesame Street, “talk, listen, connect” uses popular puppet characters to help military families with deployment challenges.

http://archive.sesameworkshop.org/tlc/

Go to the above website at Sesame Street Workshop and check out how puppets are educating military families on the challenges of extended deployments and returning combat veterans who transition back to civilian life. I can say from my own experience as a WWII & Korean War child challenged with my Dad’s confusing and angry behaviors, that this sort of program would have made a difference in understanding more clearly what was happening. None of this was available, so my family spent years afraid and alone, and were finally affected with the same challenges as adults.  I write passionately and with healing value regarding this subject in my book.

The Sesame Street Workshop DVD packets, in English and Spanish, may be available at your local VA offices.

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

University of Wisconsin Study Shows Yoga As Treatment For PTSD

http://www.channel3000.com/health/30512979/detail.html?source=c3k

For the past year, in a week-long regimen, veterans came to the center to learn yoga and breathing to help them deal with problems some didn’t even know they had.

Rich Low served as an infantry officer in the Army in Iraq, leading some 280 combat missions.

“I didn’t think I suffered post-traumatic stress,” Low said. “Mediating and breathing was something I didn’t consider, and I was surprised that when I came out on the other side, I found the desire to just be active and involved with life again. Coming back from Iraq, I was suppressing a lot of things and just living day to day.”
Low said he didn’t think his time in Iraq affected him in any major way, but he said the class changed his life.
“I went through several failed relationships, and I was wondering what was going on, why I wasn’t connecting,” he said. “I did the course and things starting opening up. I started to feel happiness, sadness, emotions I couldn’t even explain because I wasn’t familiar with them. It was a little jarring at first; I didn’t know how to handle them, but overall it’s been a great experience.”

Now researchers such as Seppala are crunching the numbers, trying to determine if the yoga therapy will stick. A year into the study, they said the answer seems to be yes.

Fast emerging non-profit group, Connected Warriors, www.theconnectedwarrior.org, is providing combat veterans of all ages access to yoga.  I have recently learned the value of this non medication treatment for PTSD and have high hopes for it’s continued success.  Music therapy is also being explored as an effective treatment for the symptoms of PTSD.  My experience with medications is that although it appears critical in overall treatment, other non-medication forms of treatment offer a far better long term solution. 


I have started working with Connected Warriors to explore bringing the program to the Oregon coast.  We do not have the same population of combat veterans living in this area as in other more populated centers, but do have relatively high numbers of  veterans of all ages and families who are challenged.  Starting point to get the program introduced is your local Veterans Affairs office according to Connected Warriors spokesperson, Denise Dallas, E. Boca Raton, Florida.


Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

“Survivor’s Guiilt,” a very serious problem and PTSD symptom among combat veterans.

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/07/03/war-and-the-moral-logic-of-survivor-guilt/?hp

“High on that list of emotions is guilt. Soldiers often carry this burden home — survivor guilt being perhaps the kind most familiar to us. In war, standing here rather than there can save your life but cost a buddy his. It’s flukish luck, but you feel responsible. The guilt begins an endless loop of counterfactuals ‑— thoughts that you could have or should done otherwise, though in fact you did nothing wrong. The feelings are, of course, not restricted to the battlefield. But given the magnitude of loss in war, they hang heavy there and are pervasive. And they raise the question of just how irrational those feelings are, and if they aren’t, of what is the basis of their reasonableness.”

The above quote is taken from a New York Times article dated July 3, 2011.  I write about the problem of guilt as a common symptom of PTSD in my book.  Anyone who survives a traumatic event where others are killed or seriously injured, will ask themselves; “why, why me, why was I spared?”  Living with this pain is brutal and a moral issue or injury.  There are things we humans cannot reconcile, and it is in our souls that we become out of balance and feel deep pain when others suffer and we are spared.  I live with guilt to this day when reminded of my own toxic home life while growing up, especially when recalling when a family member was hurt emotionally or physically.  “Could I have done something about it or prevented it?”   This is the question that comes back over and over again…  It becomes a lifelong moral compass issue.  Based on all the research, and in the above referenced article, the worst of it for combat veterans is to see a buddy wounded or killed in action.


Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

Interview with combat veteran, Army National Guard Sgt. Chris Lindsay, 32, on his experience transitioning back to civilian life.

The following quote is from a recent news story in the below link.  It is a good measure of the family dynamics of a combat veteran’s transition back to civilian life.  A veteran’s family serves too!  I am most encouraged by the number of news items of late that help the cause of PTSD awareness and what our heroes are going through in a challenging transition back to a normal life style.  It is tough to say the least, but friends and family can clearly help, and should.  During my day as a child of a WWII combat veteran, we didn’t know about it, talk about, nor hear anything in the news about it.  No social networking, and not even support groups at our schools or church during that time so many years ago.  So, like me, most of we boomers who lived in a toxic military family home, became angry adults, taking on the symptoms of PTSD ourselves.  It took me until age 64 while researching and writing my book to find out.  What a tragedy!  I hope my book and blog helps countless children of WWII and Vietnam veterans to become more aware and seek treatment.  It is never too late.  I am no longer angry,  just sad…


Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

Nine months ago, Chris said family moments his wife Kristy and three young children were rare, “I was getting snappy with my family. I was losing my temper easily.”
He tried to push those emotions aside.
“It took me nearly losing my marriage before I finally agreed something had to be done,” explained Chris.
“I gave him an ultimatum: Either you get help or I’m going to take our three kids and I’ll leave you,” said Kristy. http://www.wbir.com/news/article/206845/2/Returning-from-War-An-East-TN-soldier-shares-his-story-of-PTSD–getting-back-to-civilian-life

Must see movie trailer, “You Don’t Unbuild a Soldier”, begins to show the moral injuries to combat veterans and the effects of PTSD.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yC5bdhMXAFU&feature=related

This documentary is timely and well overdue!  How can we better see the effects of PTSD and moral injury to combat veterans than to see this movie.  I so regret that in my time growing up in our toxic home with a parent who survived 66 months of extended combat duty in WWII, that we didn’t have this kind of information and awareness to better understand Dad’s angry and abusive behavior.  It is hard not to be sad…

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

In war our moral compass is violated according to former Irag combat veteran, Camilo Mejia.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqyf2dmbeOg

The idea of  “moral injury” is now being studied and researched by the VA and in academia.  Edward Tick, PhD also describes how the “soul leaves the body” in his captivating book, War and the Soul.  Over 2,000,000 veterans since 2001 have served in combat and many suffer from seeing and doing things that are not consistent with the human and cultural life experience.  We are not congratulated and honored for killing people!  Treatments for PTSD are now taking a different and more complete path of addressing the soul.  The moral injury is caused by an individual going out of bounds by committing the immoral act of killing or injuring another human being.  The Truth Commission on Conscience of War, a non-profit group in New York is working specifically on the implications war and the soul.  https://www.facebook.com/#!/Conscience.In.War

My book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story, was published this last November 2011.  Research of my own family circumstance along with many other references and resources continued to show the moral conflict of war and combat experience.  The inter generational implications on family members are astounding and create a legacy of war that takes shape like bad genes if the cycle of pain is not broken.  My non-fiction book was a great beginning for my family to start the healing process after a 70 year struggle with the effects of PTSD.  Gaining awareness and understanding of the subject was a huge benefit to all of us.  During the 70 year period since the beginning of WWII, and our Dad, Vernon’s extended combat experience, none of us understood the toxic home culture that was hell for so long.  We blamed it on everything and each other, and only now do we see the bigger picture.  I wish my father was still alive, so we could have a long talk.  Dad avoided talking about the subject for the most part because of his pain.  He also knew that we couldn’t possibly understand, and he was right.  My goal is to continue the research; and use my book and blog as a platform to make a difference in helping others heal.

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

New crisis line for veterans is great news!

http://www.veteranscrisisline.net/

Please go to this site!  In my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story, my military family’s own 70 year struggle with PTSD, beginning with my Dad Vernon’s WWII extended combat duty, shows how difficult it is for family and friends to engage with a combat veteran struggling with months and years of combat duty and the symptoms of PTSD.  Giving veterans an opportunity to discuss their issues in confidence is so encouraging, especially if it points them in the right direction in terms of support and treatment.  Our heroes suffer every day and often for a lifetime.  And the inter generational impact on loved ones, especially children, makes PTSD a far more serious national problem that hangs on like bad genes if the cycle of pain is not broken.  This is a moral crisis that continues to require a huge commitment of support, including an on-going campaign of education and awareness.

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

Judy and I will be attending the “Book Buzz” at Book for all Seasons in Leavenworth, Washington on April 14th!

http://staging.abookforallseasons.com/events/2012_april_bookbuzz/

Judy and I are spending Easter week in one of our favorite spots in the world and home for 15 years, Leavenworth, Washington.  Our daughter Sarah was 3 years old when we moved to the mountains of Eastern Washington in 1990.  We purchased property a few years earlier and built a log home in Icicle Valley to start our new life in this beautiful Bavarian resort town.  The experience was a life changing event that had so many positives that the story is included in my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  We have been invited to be on hand for a Book for all Season’s “Book Buzz” event for authors on Saturday April 14, 2012.  Please go to the above link and learn more.  We love Leavenworth and treasure the memorable time raising our daughter, Sarah, and making so many friends. We hope to see many of our old friends while visiting during the week and at the Book Buzz.  We are grateful for the invitation, and wish to thank Pat Rutledge, owner; and Lilly-Anne Wilder, event coordinator/webmaster, for extending the invitation and doing such an excellent job on the above website to promote the event.

Steve & Judy Sparks
Depoe Bay, Oregon