“We call them the Greatest Generation of military veterans, who saved the world for democracy by defeating Germany and Japan and then returned home to build the United States into a superpower after World War II. In the popular mythology, they’re practically invincible, rarely complaining about the trauma of war. But an investigation by The Bay Citizen and New America Media shows there’s a massive amount of pain behind that taciturn exterior: In California, World War II-era veterans are killing themselves at a rate that’s nearly four times higher than that of people the same age with no military service.” ##### My father waited in denial until well into his 60’s before getting treatment for his severe PTSD condition. Dad served America during WWII in the US Navy, surviving Pearl Harbor and combat duty in the Pacific. He lived with the horror of war for years not even knowing what was wrong. His family suffered for decades with the secondary effects of PTSD before we even knew anything about moral injury and PTSD, let alone treatment alternatives. It is never too late to help aging warriors achieve some level of peace of mind. Pay attention to their behavior and help them live the rest of their lives with dignity and pride for serving America during past wars. Giving up and taking their own life should not be the only choice left for a final peaceful exit… We owe veterans of all wars our gratitude and support. Never forget their service to America… Steve Sparks Author Reconciliation: A Son’s Story
It’s a good day for a little humor! I have found so often among my boomer friends who invented the computer, including the age of the Internet, to be somewhat adverse to the threat of social media or anything related to using the computer. But when they finally decide that giving up technology in retirement is pretty lonely and disastrous they mostly jump on board with lots of enthusiasm. You really can’t reinvent yourself in retirement without staying on top of all the technology you invented and made tons of money doing so along the way. Some retire early but discover all too soon that life can be pretty boring and less than engaging when you retire your technology savvy at the same time. We seniors need the stimulation and the challenge of a transformed life well into retirement years. Your dreams of a rewarding and fulfilling life volunteering your leadership qualities and skill sets to the community will be dashed if you don’t have a laptop and smart phone. All the extra pocket change that could be earned in retirement will not be possible unless you stay on top of the technology world and your own computer skills. All the travel benefits and plans for new adventures and romance down the tube without a fine tuned technology profile. If you are a single senior you can’t even get a date without a smart phone or laptop. So, make your family proud, especially your grandchildren, and buy a smart phone along with a tablet or laptop computer. Don’t leave home without these invaluable gadgets… Rejoin the technology revolution you started! Steve Sparks Author Reconciliation: A Son’s Story
Senior Citizens: Overcoming Aversion to Computer and Gadget Usage?
The thought of changing anti-depression medications for any reason is dreadful! I know from personal experience. Just a little over a year ago, I launched into an experiment with several different medications under my physicians supervision. No one can really tell you with any kind of accuracy what works or doesn’t work. All I know is that during the “experimentation” process I had psychotic episodes and became highly anxious and uncomfortable. For a week or so I stayed close to home. If we did go out somewhere it was important for me to not drive and to stick close to my wife, Judy. Otherwise, my mind would wonder off to bad and less than happy places. Crowds were especially troublesome. It was consequently determined that what was needed was an increase in dosage on my current medication. Since then, I have been very stable and feel normal most of the time. It turns out that after a time it becomes necessary, according to my physician, to increase the dosage as the body gets used to a particular medication. At least in my case, this is how it has worked up to now. But I would prefer not to be on any medications, let alone thinking about increasing the dosage. The side effects are not welcome in any case. My search continues to find a more balanced and healthier alternative treatment. The idea of a brain scan procedure is exciting to think about. I am definitely going to follow-up on the opportunity to isolate my specific brain patterns with the goal of finding a better solution. It is encouraging to see medical science continue to advance to help those who suffer from the symptoms of PTSD or depression. I would not recommend making any changes in treatment without the guidance of a mental health professional and your primary care physician…
“The Children’s Trust of Lincoln County will be Measure 21-151 in the upcoming May election. It will authorize a 5-year property tax levy of 19 cents per thousand of assessed value, which will provide approximately $1.2 million per year in grants for children’s programs throughout Lincoln County. A citizen Fund Distribution Committee will review the grant requests from children’s programs and determine where the money will be spent.”
Neighbors for Kids, Depoe Bay, Oregon(NFK) and other childrens’ advocacy organizations in Lincoln County are challenged every year to pay for the day to day operating costs to sustain highly valued and positive after-school programs and other services we provide to K-12 kids in our community. We complement and partner with public schools…and with Oregon Coast Community College. In my work as a board member and vice chair for NFK, my heart aches for the kids that are not able to or are prevented from taking advantage of the programs provided in after-school programs in Lincoln County. We make a huge difference during the hours from 3:00pm to 6:00pm each and every day of the work week and during summer camp as well. This is the time of the day when kids can get special attention in academics to help them during the regular school hours. This is the time when kids receive extra love and mentoring from the volunteers and staff. This is the time when kids are provided with a healthy meal and some organized recreation. This is the time when kids engage with each other and adult mentors to build interpersonal communications skills. We also offer arts and music for the children who are passionate and gifted to be creative. After-school models like Neighbors for Kids, Depoe Bay, Oregon represent the future of providing our kids that extra edge to grow up as healthy, happy, and productive adults. Vote “YES” on Measure 21-151! Steve Sparks Author Reconciliation: A Son’s Story Resident & Home Owner, Lincoln County Oregon Vice Chair www.neighborsforkids.org
In the United States “There are an estimated 79 million Americans who were born during this demographic boom in births. Leading-edge Baby boomers are now late middle age and entering senior years. In the economy, many are now retiring and leaving the labor force. In 1946, live births in the U.S. surged from 222,721 in January to 339,499 in October. By the end of the 1940s, about 32 million babies had been born, compared with 24 million in the 1930s. In 1954, annual births first topped four million and did not drop below that figure until 1965, when four out of ten Americans were under the age of twenty. In the years after the war, couples who could not afford families during the Great Depression made up for lost time; the mood was now optimistic. During the war unemployment ended and the economy greatly expanded; afterwards the country experienced vigorous economic growth until the 1970s. The G.I. Bill enabled record numbers of people to finish high school and attend college. This led to an increase in stock of skills and yielded higher incomes to families.”
D. Wright Downs “Many of us who are of the Vietnam generation, the baby boomers, lived with parents who were veterans of WWII. Many of these veterans had PTSD although it was not given a name or XYZed at the time. We just had damn mean fathers who expected their children to be perfect and our mothers expected the same. If we were lucky, our mothers were not physically abusive, although they were often abusive in other ways. Of course they were perfect and no one let on what was going on in the home…that was the way things were done back then. We lied to our teachers, we lied to our coaches, and we lied to keep the secrets. We were not liars, though. God forbid if we ever lied to our parents. People talk about children of parents with PTSD as though it were something new. Well, Lord love a duck…many of us lived with it and coped as best we could until the mean abusive parent died. He could still shake me up when he was an old man and I was a married adult. I finally stood up to him. After that I drove 8 hrs in the winter to take him food because he had been hospitalized due to malnutrition. He took the food, then ripped me a new head and I found that I really didn’t mean anything to him for a long time, since my mother died, actually. Yeh, I have PTSD. My sponge started soaking up when I was a kid. It just got saturated when I was in the Army. I think, sometimes, perhaps if only…but then I come to my senses and realize that life is what it is, what it was. I could not change anything then and I loved the Army in spite of some of the god-awful awshits. His demons, if he had them, made him one of my demons. I am told he thought I was wonderful when I was a baby. My first memory of him is when I was 2 and he was not a pleasant person in that memory. My fingernails were bloody from having to get the knots out of my shoelaces and so were the shoelaces.I was not left alone with him after that. So, I am glad that perhaps kids are getting taken care of. Too many generations of kids have gone through hell because of PTSD. My brothers all handled it differently. My next brother got worse.”
Sandy / d #### Sandy reveals a heart wrenching snapshot of the life of a post WWII military child growing up during the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. There were millions of children born during and after WWII. We are the “boomer” generation, and we served too! Our fathers by the thousands returned home with horrific memories of the war, and were told to “go home and forget about it.” It is time we acknowledge the post WWII military child as we celebrate April as the “month of the military child.” None of us ever knew until later in life that our parents suffered from the symptoms of PTSD. Many suffered in silence. Many acted out at home with anger and emotional numbness, leaving children to feel less than loved and isolated. As a compounding traumatic experience we drafted thousands of boomers from a toxic post WWII era and sent them off to combat during the Vietnam War. Consequently, the already emotionally damaged youngsters came home from extended deployments and combat duty affected directly by the trauma of war in Vietnam. Now, later in life we try to heal. We heal often too late when family members and loved ones no longer have the strength or the desire to provide the support and human connectedness needed to help victims of severe trauma begin a long overdue journey of healing. My blog and website includes my own book to purchase as a way of understanding the pain of a post WWII childhood, but other great reads as well. More boomers are beginning their own journey of healing by revisiting a painful childhood and finally learning about moral injury and PTSD. They are also learning about their fathers’ heroic military service during WWII and the Korean War. I hear so often that fathers just like my own Dad hardly talked about war, but carried the emotional baggage with them for a lifetime. It is never too late to start on the path of healing and achieve some peace of mind from a past wrought with horrific memories of trauma from a post WWII toxic childhood, including direct combat during the Vietnam War… God bless the military child! And God bless veterans of all wars…and the families who served too… Steve Sparks Author Reconciliation: A Son’s Story http://www.amazon.com/Steve-Sparks/e/B0070CJDCM/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0 click and download my book…
“The bombs that made Boston look like a combat zone have also brought battlefield medicine to their civilian victims. A decade of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has sharpened skills and scalpels, leading to dramatic advances that are now being used to treat the 13 amputees and nearly a dozen other patients still fighting to keep damaged limbs.” ##### The heroic response from 1st responders and citizens after the Boston Marathon bombing saved many lives. The war time trauma medical advances are also playing a huge role in helping doctors treat injured victims who lost limbs close to the blast zone. As terrible and destructive as war has been the last 10 years, causing the loss of limbs for so many veterans, the medical advances go along way to help future trauma victims. The war medicine experience is now coming to the aid of the many injured in Boston this last week. It would be a huge blessing to see the injured return to the Boston Marathon in 2014 either walking or possibly running in the race. Mobility and the return to good physical health would be a remarkable demonstration of medical science and the resilience of those who desire returning to normal physical activity and competition. As President Obama said in his speech this last week in Boston, “you will run again.” Steve Sparks Author Reconciliation: A Son’s Story
MilitaryKidsConnect.org invites all military parents to spend quality time with their children this month at MilitaryKidsConnect.org, the only Department of Defense web site dedicated to the psychological health of military kids.
“I just came across this site.. I’m only 16 but my mom has suffered from PTSD my entire life. I had to “be the parent” at 7, and am constantly switching roles between the child and the adult. There should be more sites like this that offer support, but I can”t seem to find any.”
In this link, Military Kids with PTSD, I wrote about my own observations and experience as a military child growing up with parents who suffered severely from the symptoms of PTSD. As a military parent please take extra time to focus on your children. Use not only this month of April…US Department of Defense News Article, but take your awareness forward and help your kids understand how war affects families of combat veterans, especially children. Use the resources to educate your kids with love and kindness. Do not allow them to grow up feeling isolated and alone with the memories that are often painful and misunderstood. As a parent or teacher you can make a huge difference in the lives of your kids on this critical issue. We owe it to our children to give them the opportunity to grow up to live a healthy, happy, and productive life…
Remember the military child! My own memories as a child of a US Navy veteran shows that we can make a difference by including the military families, especially children, in our thoughts. Children of veterans who are deployed for long periods of time often suffer from the emotional challenges that war and parental separation bring home. One parent cares for the children for long periods while spouses are deployed. Kids often feel isolated and different from their peers. And they do feel the emotional numbness that comes from the symptoms of PTSD. They also see anger and live in a toxic home culture. We can help military children feel connected by getting them engaged events and activities with peer groups and adult mentors. After-school programs similar to www.neighborsforkids.org in Depoe Bay, Oregon along with special events like The Sierra Club and Children of Veterans… will go along way to make military families and children feel more connected to the community while parents are deployed and in life after war… It would have made a huge difference for me and my siblings during the 40’s and 50’s if we had felt more connected and a part of our community and schools we attended. It was a strange and lonely time growing up as a military child and the baggage can stick around for a life time. Take the extra time to pay attention to the military children and families near you that need our support… Steve Sparks Author Reconciliation: A Son’s Story
“Good Night Captain Mama…“ Good Night Captain Mama is a bilingual picture book of approximately 850 words, created for children between the ages of three and eight. The main character is a young boy in pajamas. As he passes by his mother’s bedroom, he sees her in her olive-green Air Force-issued flight suit. The child is curious about the colorful patches on the uniform and asks questions as he pulls each one off. His mother’s answers teach him, and young children everywhere, why women serve in uniform too. [peek at illustrations here] ##### I am always excited to see books for young children to help them understand why their parents serve America in the Armed Forces. In this case, Good Night Captain Mama… helps youngsters with a more difficult question of mom wearing a uniform each day for work… It might be easier to understand dad leaving home to serve in the military, but still a challenge especially when parents leave for long deployments. All moms who serve in the military and wear a uniform should get this book for your child. Children are often confused and feel alone in military families. I know this from my own childhood. I never felt like the other kids, and we relocated to strange and new places sometimes more than once during the school year. Help your children understand your military service as early as possible so talking about it and hearing others discuss the subject is well received. Children should be proud of parents who serve, and not ever feel isolated or different than their peers… Steve Sparks Author Reconciliation: A Son’s Story