Monthly Archives: December 2012

Thank dear friends who make a huge difference in your life…and in the lives of others…

VA San Diego Healthcare System http://www.sandiego.va.gov/ssc.asp
 
American Widows Project http://americanwidowproject.org/
 

Captain Lynn Hanna, Sail USA11 “Stars & Stripes” San Diego

http://www.sandiego.va.gov/ssc.asp

http://www.sailusa11.com

“Sail USA11” http://www.sailusa11.com Supports the National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic
 
 

“Setting Your Course for the Future”


The National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic Program (NVSSC) gives Veterans with disabilities an opportunity for self development and challenge through education and recreational activities. It promotes rehabilitation by teaching summer sporting activities to Veterans with significant physical or psychological impairments. Events such as sailing, surfing, kayaking, cycling, rowing, track and field will be offered.
 
Captain Lynn Hanna is a dear friend who has made a huge difference in my life…  Lynn and I became close friends over 30 years ago while working on the same sales team at a small telecommunications company, known then as Action Communications Systems.  Lynn served in the U.S. Marine Corp during the Vietnam War era.  As part owner of Sail USA11, “Cap’n Hanna” lives his dream of sailing in San Diego, California.  He is also passionate about helping veterans, including supporting the NVSSC (above link) each year by providing an exciting sailing experience to veterans challenged with physical and psychological impairments. 
 
Lynn’s Sail USA11 business also hosted http://americanwidowproject.org/ this past year. “The American Widow Project is a non-profit organization dedicated to the new generation of those who have lost the heroes of yesterday, today and tomorrow, with an emphasis on healing through sharing stories, tears and laughter. Military Widow to Military Widow.”  The widows of our warriors who make the ultimate sacrifice served America too with pride and honor.  They often suffer in silence and we rarely hear their stories.  My heart was touched hearing about the American Widow Project, and how these brave women band together and help support each other and the families of veterans of all wars…
 
I am very proud and grateful to know Lynn Hanna, who not only lives his own dream today in retirement, but continues to make a difference for others by helping military families heal from both visible and invisible wounds of war…  I signed my book for Lynn during our visit with this note, “Best friends forever.”  Lynn continues to serve America by helping fellow veterans and families in life after war…
 
Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story
 
 


 

 

 

Iraq war combat veteran, Keith Zeier, to climb Mt. Washington…Finding purpose, helping others, and healing wounds…both visible and invisible…

Keith Zeier

http://tjt0321.blogspot.com/2011/03/warrior-keith-zeier.html Quote from this website…

“Sgt. Keith Zeier was serving in Iraq with 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion when on July 17th, 2006 he was involved in an IED explosion that left his left leg with both permanent muscle and nerve damage along with a severe head injury. This incident, unfortunately, ended his career in the Marine Corps but it has certainly not stripped him of the determination, perseverance, and mental toughness that he gained while serving as an operator in the recon community.”

http://www.specialops.org/news/111344/Keith-Zeier-Inspires-Year-Long-Ascents-of-Honor-Project-for-the-SOWF-That-Begins-in-January.htm Quote from this website…

“A group of Warrior Foundation supporters, including former Marine Corps special operator Keith Zeier, will kick off a year-long awareness and fundraising campaign Jan. 17 with a climb up Mt. Washington in New Hampshire – known as the home of the world’s worst weather.

At the top of the 6,288-high peak is the Mt. Washington Observatory.”
 
 
 
“The Special Operations Warrior Foundation mission is to provide full scholarship grants as well as educational and family counseling to the surviving children of special operations personnel who lose their lives in operational or training missions and immediate financial assistance to severely wounded special operations personnel and their families.”
 
With Keith Zeier and his team’s Mt. Rainier climb this past July in the record books, it appears to be time to scale the ice cliffs on Mt. Washington, well known for being one of the worst weather spots on the planet.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Washington_(New_Hampshire). Keith like other passionate warriors who help make a differerence for others, a new challenge and purpose is critical for advancing the cause of awareness in healing physical injury,TBI, and PTSD as a consequence of serving in combat and in life after war…
 
The purpose of this blog is to make a difference through social media and to honor veterans of all wars and the families who serve too!
 
Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum – Research and Conservation…

Steve & Judy at the Desert Museum

Javelini
 
Teddy Bear Cactus
 
 
 

 

http://www.desertmuseum.org/center/research.php  Quote from this website…

“The Research and Conservation program encompasses the scientific functions of the Desert Museum. Our activities range from conducting ecological research in the Sonoran Desert region to advising education, collections, and other museum staff on scientific matters. We have a strong commitment to scientific accuracy and currency in all of our publications and interpretive programs. Our research is characterized by:”

  • A focus on whole-organism and community biology.
  • A focus on projects that promote habitat conservation.
  • A focus on interdisciplinary studies. Our staff has expertise in botany, ethnobiology, paleobiology, ornithology, mammalogy, herpetology, invertebrate biology, and educational outreach. Whenever possible we add a geologist/soil scientist to our research team. We favor projects that integrate these disciplines to discover the full ecological story.
  • A dedication to disseminating our knowledge to the public in nontechnical language.
  • Annual scientific conferences.
  • ASDM Studies in Natural History. A book series focused on the greater Sonoran Desert ecoregion.

As we make our way home to the Oregon coast, history and nature continue to be highlights of our journey.  The Tucson Desert Museum is one of those exceptional places to learn about the Sonora Desert ecosystem, and conservation.  One of my favorite exhibits was the “cave” http://www.have-fun-in-the-southwest.com/Arizona-Sonora-Desert-Museum-Pictures.html.

Cave Entrance
Cave Exhibit
 
I have enjoyed visits to the Sonora Desert during my lifetime, but have never had a chance to really learn specifically about the desert’s ecosystem until now.  One amazing fact is the amount of precipitation, mostly during the summer months, averages 12 inches per year.  The rains come in from Mexico’s Gulf of California and create a monsoon season during the months of July and August.  The desert stores all this water in the flora and aquifers, creating adequate reserves to sustain life and all the beauty the Sonora is known for during the extremely dry months.  The cave exhibit particularly reveals how Native Americans lived in a pretty cozy and cool spot, including a natural aquifer for continuous water supply http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aquifer.  The early spring in the Sonora is what we all consider an amazing event, and hardly believe the beauty displayed in this dry desert region.
 
Early Spring Sonora Desert!
 
Next time you are in Tucson, don’t miss the chance to visit the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum…  We are definitely planning a return visit to spend our winter months in Tucson and experience the “vortex” of this special museum and zoo in the desert…http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vortex
 
Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story
 

Veterans explore “Moral Injury” as root cause for symptoms connected to PTSD….

http://dissidentvoice.org/2012/12/veterans-explore-moral-injury/ Quote from this website…


Veterans Explore “Moral Injury”

by Shepherd Bliss / December 17th, 2012


“But we have been busy recovering from what has recently been described as “moral injury,” which I consider a better description than the clinical term Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Vets are simply not disorders; war is the disorder. Moral injury can lead to difficulty sleeping, staying in relationships, and keeping jobs. It can contribute to alcoholism, homelessness, incarceration, feeling ashamed and bad about oneself, depression, hopelessness, and the final response—suicide. Or homicide.”

http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/12/02/a-new-theory-of-ptsd-and-veterans-moral-injury.html




In a series of pioneering studies, one researcher found that, from World War II to today, killing was the single greatest risk factor for PTSD, bigger even than heavy combat. (Alex Majoli / Magnum for Newsweek)



Since researching, writing, and publishing my book along with launching this blog, my mind has been expanded and my heart has come to know that the symptoms of PTSD point to a more human and spiritual problem of moral injury… Killing and observing death and carnage causes us humans to be profoundly affected for a lifetime by the memories and emotional damage of participating in a spiritually wrongful act of the most extreme, deliberately killing another human!   Living and coping in toxic conditions as a family member or loved one while caring for a person suffering from moral injury, who demonstrates severe symptoms of PTSD over a long period of time, can cause the secondary effects of moral injury, including PTSD. Children are at risk and potentially affected the most when living with a parent who spent extended periods of time in combat. Simply stated, we humans have a soul and the soul can be injured, sometimes beyond repair.

If we just focus on the symptoms of PTSD, soul damage and repair is not fully understood. This singular focus can lead to the misuse or over use of harmful medications, including alcohol, rather than seeking alternative treatments that make a long term difference. I am not suggesting that medications are not effective nor claim to be an expert on mental health treatments. Medications have been both helpful and a hindrance in my own experience until finding the right balance. It would appear that attacking moral injury as a human condition and addressing the inner most spiritual needs is critical in re-balancing one’s moral compass and experiencing a successful journey of healing…

My own journey of healing has been realized through writing as a therapy. The above website discusses veterans who are experiencing the same through connecting with others and making a difference by talking and writing about their painful past. Not knowing what is going on with your emotional wellness and believing we should suffer in silence can manifest and become far worse over time. Even more dangerous is how your pain impacts loved ones along the way. I believe that the real motivation of achieving mental health wellness is how it helps others in your life, including helping the person affected to feel so much better about living in the moment. Focusing on things larger than self seems to offer the most rewards for humans in general, especially those who suffer from the spiritual pain of moral injury…

Please take the time to read both articles provided in the links above.  The discussion of moral injury as it relates to PTSD is a highly positive step toward helping 1000’s who suffer the emotional pain of experiencing traumatic events.  Your questions and comments will help keep this discussion moving forward…Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story
 

Ft. Bowie, Arizona…Native American warriors fought bravely for the survival of culture and society… U.S. Army soldiers pushed back for two decades before peace was won…

NPS Photo Ruins of Ft. Bowie
http://www.nps.gov/fobo/index.htm  Photo & Quote from this website…

“For more than 30 years Fort Bowie and Apache Pass were the focal point of military operations eventually culminating in the surrender of Geronimo in 1886 and the banishment of the Chiricahuas to Florida and Alabama. It was the site of the Bascom Affair, a wagon train massacre, and the battle of Apache Pass, where a large force of Chiricahua Apaches under Mangus Colorados and Cochise fought the California Volunteers.”

http://www.nps.gov/fobo/index.htm 

 
 

Sesquicentennial of Fort Bowiehttp://www.nps.gov/fobo/index.htm

“Fort Bowie commemorates the bitter conflict between Chiricahua Apaches and the U.S. military – a lasting monument to the bravery and endurance of U.S. soldiers in paving the way for settlement and the taming of the western frontier. It provides insight into a “clash of cultures,” a young nation in pursuit of “manifest destiny,” and the hunter/gatherer society fighting to preserve its existence.”
Geronimo
Cochise Sculpture
http://www.cochisestronghold.com/ Quote from this site…
“This rugged natural fortress was, for some 15 years, the home and base of operations for the famed Chiricahua Apache Chief, Cochise.  Cochise and about 1,000 of his followers, of whom some 250 were warriors, located here.  Sentinels, constantly on watch from the towering pinnacles of rock, could spot their enemies in the valley below and sweep down without warning in destructive raids.  No man, woman or child within a hundred miles was safe from these attacks.”
 
 
 
 
Unless you travel the country and have a passion for history, or spend a lifetime in a higher education learning institution, it is virtually impossible to know about the bravery and passion of early Americans fighting to save mutual cultures and build a new society.  Ft. Bowie is one of the best examples of decades of war between two different cultures of the time.  Geronimo http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geronimo and Chocisehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cochise made history in the mountains and deserts surrounding this region of Arizona near Tucson…https://www.google.com/search?q=ft+bowie&hl=en&tbo=u&tbm=isch&source=univ&sa=X&ei=ZQzbUP_KHuOh2QWxi4CABA&ved=0CIsBELAE&biw=734&bih=596
The U.S. Military of that period fought the Apache, who moved around the Coronado National Forest area http://www.fs.usda.gov/coronado as a strike force trained as we would think of a special operations team in the 21st century.  Ft Bowie was the U.S. Army staging area for many years of battle for land, resources and cultural preservation.
Learn more about this fascinating history of America by planning a visit to Ft. Bowie National Historical Site or browsing the websites provided above.  The heroes of our past include both the Native American warriors and US Army soldiers of this significant transitional period in United States history…
Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story
 
 

Merry Christmas from Tucson, Arizona…and other places close to our hearts…

 
View the post. Shared on Google+.
Christmas Concerts at San Xavier in Tucson, Arizona
http://www.sanxaviermission.org/

“(Newport, Oregon) – It’s a coastal Christmas season in the Newport and Depoe Bay areas, with a ton of festive festivals and holiday delights filling that ocean air. Fun at the aquarium, lighted boats on the bay, music left and right, lots of cheer and of course the opportunity to shop for gifts in a much relaxed atmosphere.”
 
Christmas in Leavenworth, Wa
 
Although we are not home for Christmas this year, we feel blessed to have the chance to spend Christmas with dear friends, Werner & Claudia, who spend the winter months in Tucson.  Our friends, who also reside in Leavenworth, Washington, bring back special memories of this beautiful Bavarian town, especially during the holidays.  We also think of home in Depoe Bay, Oregon where we now live.  Our daughter, Sarah, keeps us posted with updates and photos of Christmas at our home in Little Whale Cove.  We enjoyed our early celebration with Sarah in Destin, Florida and New Orleans…
 
Later today we’ll Skype with daughter, Bianca, husband Bobby, and grand kids Joey & Jordan in Minnetonka, Minnesota.  Our next road trip is planned for the spring to visit with Bianca and her family when granddaughter Jordan graduates from high school.  We are planning to stick around for several weeks to reconnect with extended family members, including cousins from both sides of my parents’ families.  My roots hail from Minnesota where our mutual families were born and raised.  My Dad, Vernon, moved away in 1936 to join the US Navy, and Mom, Marcella, left St. Paul in 1940 to begin a life with her new husband in Long Beach, California.  I write extensively about the early years of their marriage and the challenges of WWII in my book. 
 
   Next stop is Palm Springs for a visit with Judy’s sister, Joy, nephew Max and dear friend, Buzz.  Joy and Max are returning to home in New Hampshire this coming summer.  Before the final leg of our return home, we are spending much needed time with our daughter, Deanna, husband James and grand kids Mike & Cameryn in San Pedro, California.  We are excited about kicking off the New Year with another long overdue family celebration. 
 
It would be no surprise to admit we are ready to go home!  Judy and I have traveled over 10,000 miles since leaving Depoe Bay on September 11, 2012. We are now making our way back to the Oregon coast. The adventure and romance of our extended journey the past several months will be treasured with wonderful memories, including all of the special experiences captured on this blog.  And, who knows…the content for my next book may well be within reach…
 
Merry Christmas and a most successful New Year to all…
 
Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story 

A True Oasis – Hotel El Capitan – Van Horn, TX in the Texas Mountain Trail Region…

http://texasmountaintrail.com/  Quote from this website…

About the Mountain Trail Region

“Breathtaking mountains and high-country hikes. Sheer river canyons and winding back roads. Exotic panoramas and star-studded nights. Adventure in the unspoiled West awaits you in the Texas Mountain Trail Region of Far West Texas. See land as early man saw it, as the Apache and Comanche saw it, as ranching pioneers saw it. Visit Big Bend National Park, hike the spectacular South Rim Trail. Follow the Butterfield Overland Stagecoach route through Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Visit our charming mountain communities, where cowboys may still go to lunch in town on horseback. Catch a performance at El Paso’s 1930 Plaza Theatre, in the heart of the museum district. Visit adobe missions, still used as churches for local congregations. We invite you to plan your own adventure! Travel by car, horse, motorcycle, bicycle, RV, or by foot—the scenery and history is unparalleled. Let the Texas Mountain Trail be your guide to discovery and adventure!” http://www.nationalparks.org/explore-parks/big-bend-national-park

Big Bend National Park
A
Night View of Hotel El Capitan
Hotel El Capitan Lobby

  http://www.hotelinvanhorn.com/  Quote from this website…

“The El Capitan has fifty-two rooms, twelve of which have French doors that open to private exterior balconies or patios overlooking a central Courtyard with a fountain centered in the midst of palm and olive trees. In the 1970’s, every bathroom in the building had been removed when the hotel was converted to a bank. With the new renovation, all rooms have been completely restored with private baths featuring black and white hexagon tile and Kohler fixtures.

If you ask Duncan what was the most interesting aspect of rebuilding El Capitan, he says “finding the secret passageways of the building”. For security measures when the bank moved in, they closed the old passageways, several staircases, about 50 linear yards of underground tunnels and a small room. He says during renovations, they started pulling 1970’s paneling off the walls and found all sorts of passageways that nobody new anything about. The only artifacts found from the original hotel were some vintage monogrammed Hotel Capitan dishes and 1930’s beer cans.
Once again The Hotel El Capitan is becoming a destination for travelers in far West Texas.”

Judy and I were very tired after driving about 10 hours and over 500 miles.  We were starting to believe that we would have to drive all the way to El Paso.  The two “60 somethings” were again questioning our judgement…  We could have stopped at Ft. Stockton, a dusty unwelcome town we stayed for one night on our trip east earlier. 

We saw all the lights when approaching Van Horn, TX and wondered if we would be lucky to find a “fleabag” motel, anything…  But what we found was much more than another dusty town with few lights and hardly a soul or even a fuel station.  Van Horn is the hub for a big time recreation area in this part of Texas, approximately 120 miles east of El Paso.   Taking a risk once in while is a good thing, and for the most part has produced pleasant surprises, like the Hotel El Capitan featured above.  I was immediately re-energized and inspired to capture the whole story for my blog posting today, and think about our return trip at some point to explore the area more deservedly.

I promised Judy to let her sleep in since we gain an hour just five miles west of Van Horn.  Traveling through 500 plus miles of “no man’s land” was an adventure.  I even put on my IT infrastructure hat, and observed all the work along the way to beef up broadband access and overall telecommunications service on Interstate 10.  “Build and they will come” we used to say back in the day.  I believe IT business planning today still includes this highly effective assumption to spend the billions needed to build fiber optics and continuous high speed Internet in a ubiquitous fashion as fast as possible.

It will be a pleasant drive to the Tucson area today to spend Christmas with our dear friends from Leavenworth, Washington, Werner and Claudia.  Winter time in Arizona has become a first choice option these days for many as compared to sticking it out in the long punishing winter of cold and deep snow back home in North Central Washington.

Stay tuned to our travels while we return home to the Central Oregon coast.  We fantasize that the rain and wind will end by the time we get there by mid-January.  Slight chance is the reality!

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

War of 1812 – Battle of New Orleans…The history of New Orleans is breathtaking!

The Battle of New Orleans by Henry Bryan Hall after William Momberger
Date January 8, 1815
Location About five miles (8 km) south of New Orleans on the grounds of Chalmette Plantation
Result Decisive American victory[1]
British troops and fleet withdraw from Louisiana
 
   
   
   

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_New_Orleans

Cafe Pontalba  & Apartment Buildings

http://www.gonola.com/2011/08/03/nola-history-the-pontalba-apartment-buildings-at-jackson-square.html

“One of the people we have to thank for this large outdoor garden in front of St. Louis Cathedral, as well as the two apartment buildings on either side of the square, is Micaela Leonarda Antonia Almonester, Baroness Pontalba. The only child of Don Andres Almonaster y Rojas, a leader of one of the oldest Creole families in New Orleans, Micaela was born in 1795. Don Andres died in 1798, leaving the baby Micaela sole heiress to his fortune. Her family arranged a marriage to her cousin, Xavier Celestin Delfau de Pontalba. Xavier was the oldest son of the baron, Joseph Delfau de Pontalba. The couple moved to France, where the elder Pontalba was constantly scheming to acquire Micaela’s fortune, eventually shooting her with a dueling pistol in 1834. Micaela survived, but the baron committed suicide with the same set of pistols.”

                 Jackson Square and the Lower Pontalba building, 1860s (LA State Library photo)
 
“In order to increase the rental value of her apartments, Micaela was one of the leaders in the effort to rename the Place d’Armes after the hero of the 1815 Battle of New Orleans, General (later President) Andrew Jackson. The square’s name was changed, and city leaders purchased an equestrian statue of Jackson from the sculptor Clark Mills in 1856. The square was converted from a military parade ground and execution site (runaway slaves and others committing crimes were often hanged in the Place d’Armes) into the peaceful park we know today.”
 
 
 
Jackson Square
 
 
Saint Louis Cathedral
 
 
 

Our last night in New Orleans was breathtaking!  The Christmas spirit, unique history and the food; almost too much to handle all at once!  The St. Peter Clavier Gospel Choir was the highlight of the evening at the Saint Louis Cathedral http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZkiKo-8NwW4.  Connecting the amazing history of New Orleans while enjoying delicious Creole food at Cafe Pontalba http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louisiana_Creole_cuisine inspired us to plan a return visit.  We were at the epicenter of 200 years of history dating back to the War of 1812, including the final Battle of New Orleans in 1815, the Pontabal Aparments, Jackson Square, and the Saint Louis Cathedral…  WOW!

Farewell New Orleans…  We’ll be back…

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

“Aloha” Senator Daniel Inouye – Honoring WWII Heroes!

President pro tempore of the United States Senate
In office
June 28, 2010 – December 17, 2012
Inouye as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Army
 
 

“As his squad distracted the third machine gunner, Inouye crawled toward the final bunker, eventually drawing within 10 yards. As he raised himself up and cocked his arm to throw his last grenade into the fighting position, a German inside the bunker fired a rifle grenade that struck him on the right elbow, severing most of his arm and leaving his own primed grenade reflexively “clenched in a fist that suddenly didn’t belong to me anymore”.[11] Inouye’s horrified soldiers moved to his aid, but he shouted for them to keep back out of fear his severed fist would involuntarily relax and drop the grenade. As the German inside the bunker reloaded his rifle, Inouye pried the live grenade from his useless right hand and transferred it to his left. As the German aimed his rifle to finish him off, Inouye tossed the grenade off-hand into the bunker and destroyed it. He stumbled to his feet and continued forward, silencing the last German resistance with a one-handed burst from his Thompson before being wounded in the leg and tumbling unconscious to the bottom of the ridge. When he awoke to see the concerned men of his platoon hovering over him, his only comment before being carried away was to gruffly order them to return to their positions, since, as he pointed out, “nobody called off the war!”[12]
The remainder of Inouye’s mutilated right arm was later amputated at a field hospital without proper anesthesia, as he had been given too much morphine at an aid station and it was feared any more would lower his blood pressure enough to kill him.[13]
Although Inouye had lost his right arm, he remained in the military until 1947 and was honorably discharged with the rank of captain. At the time of his leaving the Army, he was a recipient of the Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart. Inouye was initially awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his bravery in this action, with the award later being upgraded to the Medal of Honor by President Bill Clinton (alongside 19 other Nisei servicemen who served in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and were believed to have been denied proper recognition of their bravery due to their race).[14] His story, along with interviews with him about the war as a whole, were featured prominently in the 2007 Ken Burns documentary The War.[15]
While recovering from war wounds and the amputation of his right forearm from the grenade wound (mentioned above) at Percy Jones Army Hospital, Inouye met future Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole, then a fellow patient. While at the same hospital, Inouye also met future fellow Democrat and Senator Philip Hart, who had been injured on D-Day. Dole mentioned to Inouye that after the war he planned to go to Congress; Inouye beat him there by a few years. The two remained lifelong friends. In 2003, the hospital was renamed the Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center in honor of the three WWII veterans.”

According to news reports, Daniel Inouye’s last statement before passing was, “Aloha.”  How fitting is this for a truly special American hero with a remarkable legacy of service to his country?  I enjoy remembering our heroes by honoring how they made a difference for others in their life time.  Senator Inouye served America for all of his adult life starting with the US Army during WWII.  The number of remaining WWII veterans is becoming smaller with each day.  We will always acknowledge and honor the “Greatest Generation” of Americans.  Now we should take a private moment to remember and honor Daniel Inouye for his long service, dedication, passion and contributions to the United States of America…

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

“Mental Health Evaluations” and Gun Control… I like the “drivers license” test!

Sandy Hook Elementary Memorial



http://www.comicbookbin.com/God_Guns_and_Mental_Illness_In_Retrospect_of_the_Sandy_Hook_Elementary_School_Shooting_001.html
Quote from this website and article…

Look at it this way: I have a class C driver’s license with no restrictions. I don’t have any impairments (physical or mental) that would diminish my capability to operate a motor vehicle. However, if I wanted to drive a motorcycle, I would still have to apply for a class M1 or class M2 license to operate a motorized bike. If I wanted to be able to drive a commercial vehicle, I would have to apply yet again for a commercial drivers license (CDL). These regulations are not meant to impede or impair my right to drive, but to ensure my safety and the safety of others by making sure I have the mental and physical capacity to operate these varying types of vehicles for their intended use. Likewise, proposing stricter gun control laws are not intended to nullify the second amendment, but to make sure lethal weapons are placed in responsible hands, whether that means longer waiting periods, more in-depth criminal background checks, mandatory routine psychological evaluations or all of the above. 

http://livingwithptsd-sparkles.blogspot.com/2012/12/when-and-how-do-we-mitigate-threshold.html

“My brother and I could have been shot close to 50 years ago when Dad, who carried a gun as a 1st responder, came into our bedroom shaking a gun at us in a most threatening way.”

I wrote about this subject the other day, which included the above quote…  This was a terrifying experience, and not the only scary incident in our life in a toxic home culture.  My father served America with pride and honor during WWII and in the Korean War.  He was also considered a top professional as a 1st responder in the Federal Correctional Institution before he finally retired after 40 years total military and federal government service.  My father, like countless other Americans during his time, served his country with passion and dedication.  But so many of our heroes of his time suffered terribly with the symptoms of PTSD without effective diagnosis and treatment during long careers.  Most did not commit a crime, but probably should not have carried a gun due to apparent mental health challenges and substance abuse.  The risk was not mitigated and we will never know how many incidents of violence can be attributed to military and security professionals who lived and coped with the pain of moral injury.

As a family we are grateful that Dad was able to complete his career without a tragic event and receive mental health treatment later in life.  Making this circumstance even more troublesome was that Dad was the sole “bread winner” in our family until we were old enough to work and go to school at the same time.  If there had been effective mental health evaluations during Dad’s time, his career may have ended unless treatment was available or an unarmed position offered. 

There is no good answer but there are lessons learned from our past.  We can do better, much better.  I am hopeful at the moment that there is the right sense of urgency in America to take action and mitigate the risk of future tragic events by instituting appropriate and effective mental health evaluations for all citizens, including security professionals and 1st responders, who intend to carry or own a gun for any reason.

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story