Monthly Archives: July 2013

“From PTSD to Prison: Why Veterans Become Criminals”

Sending an injured veteran to prison??  Quotes from this website…by

“Nearly one in 10 inmates have served in the military. Matthew Wolfe on how the system fails them—and the new prison dorms that could help them get back on track.”

“One Saturday morning in 2008, Boyd finished his shift and began to drink. In the evening, a friend drove him to a party. The last thing Boyd says he remembers is sitting in the front seat of the car outside the party, drinking liquor. When he woke up, he was in a police car, on his way to jail. The police officer told Boyd that he had shot his friend in the chest. The bullet made a clean exit, and the friend lived. Corporal Boyd was sentenced to five years in prison.”

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There are lots of reasons to send criminals to prison.  But when we are aware of the physical and emotional damage warriors sustain and the challenges of readjustment to civilian life, should we even consider criminal intent?  I am not an expert on answering this question, but in my view it does present a moral responsibility on the part of the community to find ways to help veterans heal effectively in life after war.   The very last option should be prison under very clear criminal intent and circumstances…

Veterans Courts… are being adopted all over America to address the special circumstances of the morally injured or invisibly wounded combat veteran.  Veterans Treatment Court Legislation… was passed by congress to give veterans a second look and consider mental health in the equation.  The veterans court works much like the drug courts in the context of the need for long term treatment and healing.  I am very much in favor of this approach for veterans.  But it takes the local community to push for change.  This kind of effort needs champions in the state, county, and local legal system to make it happen.

It is really tough on families to care for warriors when they return home.  It is even tougher if the courts do not make adjustments in the case of crimes committed by veterans.  If my father had been sent to jail in the 50’s during the worst of our family challenges, we would have all ended up on welfare and/or in foster homes, or worse.  Dad was lucky to have avoided getting into trouble with the law while still in the US Navy during the “terrible 50’s.”  I have mixed emotions about all this because of my experience as a child in an abusive household.  It would have been far more painful as a family if we had to go through additional stress as a result of not having a father in the home and no income whatsoever…  The lessor of two evils comes to mind when thinking of the outcome…  As a family we were “collateral damage” from WWII and the Korean War…  

We should not wait for injured warriors to commit crimes following serving America with honor in war.  We must work harder as a community to support veterans at the beginning of transition back to civilian life rather than later when it might be too late…   

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story  click to order…

A message of hope for young adults experiencing depression… My own experience as a young man on the brink until receiving urgent care…

Suicide risk among young adults…  Quote from this website…

“As we know all too well, young people have a higher suicide rate than their elders, and males more so than females. This info-graphic is for those needing a one page graphic summary of the grim facts of depression and suicide among young people.”

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As an 18 year old young man in the US Navy in 1965, I was very lucky!  Thanks to the excellent tender loving care (TLC) by US Navy mental health professionals, I am here today at 67 living a healthy, happy, and productive life with a loving family and friends at my side…  I know now from receiving my medical records from that time that traumatic experiences from childhood years and as a young adult took its toll.  I did not know it at the time but my lifetime journey of healing started because W. F. Miner, LCDR. MC USN in May of 1965 was paying attention.  I am very thankful for Mr. Miner’s thorough evaluation and treatment to help me through a most critical and risky period in my life.

I found a couple of references to W. F. Miner USN.  His service to America and contributions as a mental health professional appear to be substantial.  He along with D. S. Burgoyne CDR MC USN, Psychiatrist, were both instrumental in my treatment and transition.  I have a much better appreciation and gratitude for the mental health community after reviewing my medical records from long ago.  We hear mostly of the statistics presented in the above chart, but not always about the lives saved every day by caring mental health professionals everywhere.  I only wish I could find these two heroes from my US Navy experience and thank them personally for saving my life…

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story  click to order…

“Vets benefit from Exposure Therapy.” Revisiting my own painful traumatic past has been very beneficial…

Prolonged Exposure Therapy… click for more…

“Exposure therapy is a type of therapy that helps you decrease distress about your trauma. This therapy works by helping you approach trauma-related thoughts, feelings, and situations that you have been avoiding due to the distress they cause. Repeated exposure to these thoughts, feelings, and situations helps reduce the power they have to cause distress.
Prolonged Exposure (PE) is one exposure therapy that works for many people who have experienced trauma. It has four main parts:”
 
By Charles Bankhead, Staff Writer, MedPage Today
Reviewed by Zalman S. Agus, MD; Emeritus Professor, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and Dorothy Caputo, MA, BSN, RN, Nurse Planner

Veterans benefit from “exposure therapy…”  Quote from this website article…

“The results indicate that prolonged exposure (PE), when provided within routine VHA [Veterans Health Administration] settings, is associated with significant improvement in PTSD and depression symptoms across subgroups of veteran patients,” the authors concluded.

“The findings from the VA PE Training Program suggest that PE is associated with clinically significant improvements in PTSD among veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan as well as veterans of other eras. It is notable that PE, a treatment originally developed for female rape survivors, can benefit male and female veterans affected by different kinds of traumatic events,” they added.

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I am always encouraged to read about the success of alternative therapies that provide relief from the symptoms of PTSD.  Even though it is recognized by the mental health professional community that prescription medications can help in the short run, it seems clear that the many alternative choices that provide human connectedness and mindfulness have a far better chance of healing benefits for the long term.

I have realized in my own research and personal experience that reliving or revisiting traumatic experiences really does help.   The long term repressed feelings and denial really stick around as emotional baggage unless you start to put it out there by being engaged in a proactive way.  Trying to sort the trauma and emotional pain from the past without complete awareness is like chasing a myth. 

My research and writing on the subject of trauma the past two years has provided me with a perspective that has been healing and continues to be a positive work in progress…  The more the dots are connected and my memory returns from those painful childhood and young adult years, my mind becomes clear and more focused on the living in the moment and future goals.  It is exciting to slowly but surely take away the power and hold that traumatic experiences often have on those of us who suffer from the lingering symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Wishing all my readers the best in your own journey of healing!

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story click to order

Kids living with parents suffering from moral injury and PTSD are at risk from “emotional neglect.”

What is Complex PTSD?

Complex PTSD…symptoms of child abuse…

Emotional neglect is primary cause of C-PTSD…  Quote from this website…

“Pete Walker provides a convincing argument for the recognition and proper treatment of emotional flashbacks and complex PTSD, which result from childhood neglect and emotional abuse.”
 
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Since researching and writing my book almost two years ago, I have stayed safely on the periphery of the global issue of PTSD and moral injury.  As my research has continued and becomes more focused on child abuse, I am learning much more about kids who live with parents suffering from the symptoms of PTSD.  Kids are often considered resilient…  Children can be easily ignored, and become isolated in their own home environment when parents are preoccupied with their own emotional challenges.  I know this well as a survivor of child abuse, including emotional neglect.  My parents were emotionally numb most of the time during the 1950’s following Dad’s deployment in the Korean War.  Dad also served in severe and extended combat all of WWII starting with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the rest of the war years in the Pacific, returning home finally in June of 1945.  My youngest sister was born in the late 50’s.  Dad was suffering terribly from too much war and trauma without any treatment options except alcohol…  Mom was sick physically and emotionally damaged from the affects of war on military families serving on the home front…  I call this period of my life…”the too terrible to remember 50’s…”
 
For the most part my postings are on the “healing and thriving” side of the global challenge of moral injury and PTSD.  Although I try to stick with a positive message, I know that children are often not discussed in the context of PTSD.  Parents do not like to think of child abuse and no doubt never intend to create a culture of emotional neglect for their kids.  But bad stuff happens!  I have been compelled of late to speak out more about the effects of secondary PTSD or C-PTSD in the case of children living in a toxic home.  The upside of  being more aware of my own childhood experience in a troubled home, really helps me with my own journey of healing.  I am starting to remember some painful events during that time that have been pushed to the back of my brain for much of my adult life.  Holding all this emotional baggage inside is not healthy.  But it is equally difficult initially to remember faded memories and connect the dots.  But once all this “bad stuff” is sorted out, we begin to heal and live a far better quality of life.  It is never too late!

I know most parents love their kids deeply, and as a community we embrace the health and welfare of our children.  If our children could only talk to us about how they feel without being scared, we could do so much more to stop child abuse.  I don’t know of a parent in my lifetime who would not respond instantly if they knew children would carry the baggage of emotional and physical abuse for a lifetime, and even pass the behaviors on to the next generation.  We must do better as parents and as a community to prevent child abuse…

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story  click to order my book…and start your own journey of healing…
 
 

Dad heads off to the Korean War in August 1950 following WWII! This was too much war and trauma for one person let alone thousands like my Dad who fought two wars.


USS Andromeda (AKA-15)
(United States of America)
Laid down: 22 September 1942
Launched: 22 December 1942
Commissioned: 2 April 1943
Decommissioned: 1 May 1956
Struck: 1 July 1960
Fate: Sold in 1971
General characteristics
Displacement: 13,910 tons
Length: 459 ft 3 in (140 m)
Beam: 63 ft (19.2 m)
Draft: 26 ft 4 in (8.0 m)
Speed: 16.5 knots (31 km/h)
Complement: 404
Armament: 1 × 5 in (127 mm)
1 × 38 caliber dual purpose gun mount
4 × 3 in gun mounts

Museum of Military History…  Quote and photo from this website…

“This Day in Military History: July 23, 1950 – USS Boxer sets record crossing of Pacific to bring aircraft, troops, and supplies to Korea at start of the Conflict. She made a record-breaking crossing of the Pacific Ocean, leaving Alameda, Ca on 14 July 1950 and arriving at Yokosuka, Japan on 23 July, a trip of 8 days and 7 hours. She carried one hundred forty-five P-51 Mustangs and six L-5 Sentinels of the United States Air Force destined for the Far East Air Force as well as 19 Navy aircraft.”



I really don’t hear a whole lot about the Korean War and the sacrifice of combat veterans who are still very much with us, especially if they were just 17 when entering the service at that time in the early 1950’s.  What really shocked me is that my father, Vernon, after being diagnosed with severe “battle fatigue” following extended combat duty in WWII was sent away to the Korean War on the USS Andromeda just a few years later.  “Andromeda provided logistics support for United Nations forces fighting the Korean War until returning to San Diego at the end of the year. After 10 months of duty on the west coast, the ship returned to the Orient and logistics support for the United Nations defense of South Korea.”  Dad was told that he would not have to go back to any war while still in the Navy.  He was away again for about one year supporting the troops in the Korean War even though his condition and symptoms of PTSD worsened according to his medical records and observations by family members. 

I remember Dad coming home, as written in my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  “I was standing with my Mother, brothers, Jerry and Danny, and could see him waving from the ship when it was being secured to the dock.  The really tough times for Dad and our family were in the 50’s and vivid memories still persist.  We were all afraid and walked on egg shells most of the time.  It is sad for me to think of these times, and even more troubling to think that the US Navy sent my Dad and probably thousands of other WWII combat veterans back to war during the Korean conflict.  Dad’s symptoms were especially apparent with panic attacks and nightmares of shipboard duty.  He along with thousands of WWII veterans served America with pride and honor in combat during WWII and should not have had to return to duty during the Korean conflict.”

The Museum of Military History touched me personally during my visit last year…  I was honored to have participated in an open house event and share my family’s post WWII story with veterans from all branches of service who attended.   It is now my pleasure to honor the veterans and families who served both in WWII and the Korean War on this anniversary day of the Korean War on July 23, 1950.  We should never forget the realities of life after war, especially for veterans who serve multiple and extended combat duty in all wars… 

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story  click to review and order…

“Thriving…” Everything positive in life even with PTSD! Walk and talk the journey of healing!

It’s blurred, but it better captures trail running.
View of Acadia during a trail run.

 

Thriving…  Quote from this site, “PTSD: A Soldier’s Perspective…

“Thriving” that will highlight everything positive in our lives. My part in the series will showcase the hobbies, activities and professional success I enjoy in order to challenge the preconceived notions about people with war’s invisible injuries. My hope is that the combination of this series with our more typical posts about confronting PTSD will illustrate that we here at PSTD: A Soldier’s Perspective are not solely pessimistic. We take the good with the bad. So in the same month I might post about suicidal idealization, survivor guilt and triggers as well as the hiking, trail running, beer brewing, publishing articles, presenting papers and other crazy things I do to make myself feel worthwhile.”
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The word “thriving” really got my attention!  I know PTSD is hard, really hard on soldiers, families, loved ones, and caregivers.  Millions of folks who volunteered to serve America suffer from the symptoms of PTSD and the affects of moral injury.   Millions more from all the past wars who are no longer here suffered for a lifetime.  The baggage of war carries forward for generations until we start to break the pattern of heartbreak and denial to begin the journey of healing.  

Mindfulness… and learning how to thrive, even with all the emotional baggage for most of my life, has been critical to my own journey of healing.  Practice living in the moment as best you can.  I know it is tough.  It is a work in progress for me each day.  But with the awareness that comes from reading and learning more about what happened to us along life’s journey, especially traumatic events that haunt the human soul, we can begin to move forward. 

“PTSD: A Soldiers Perspective” is another example of the good news of healing from the pain of experiencing traumatic events in war.  Adjusting to life after war is often very difficult.  But without awareness and human connectedness, the days are much harder and longer, especially with sleepless nights.  There is hope and a bright future ahead.  It takes lots of personal ownership and hard work to win the battle…  You can do it!

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story  click to order…

Crescent Head Australia “Jack & his girl…” Soulmates on the waves, especially for we boomers with treasured memories of days gone by…

Jack Lynch and the Cruise…  Good for the soul…surfing video and music…click for a treat…

“They say you can’t buy style and aint that the truth … Crescent Head on a log plus grace from Jack Lynch and his girl Roya is easy on the eye and mana for the soul.”

The Sea Life presents “Jack & his girl” a day in Crescent Head filmed and edited by Josh Simpson.

 
 
 
 
 
 
This is a good day to practice mindfulness…  Take yourself away, far away for a little while and treasure those memories or dream of new adventures in far off places.  Or, just take a break right at home experiencing the beauty of natures gifts.  Surfing and the ocean has been a huge part of my life and always gives me peace of mind.  I feel the same way on top of a mountain after a long hike taking in the spectacular valley views and fresh air.  Listening to the music video of  Jack Lynch and the Cruise… the beautiful waves and surfing of “Jack & his girl” will take you to that special place in your mind and heart right now…
 
Steve Sparks
Author
 
 

The War Within: PTSD by Ginger Kadlec, published in “Project Eve…”

“Project Eve…Inspiring women reinventing their careers…”

 
“Project Eve challenges and inspires a new breed of innovative and creative women who are actively reinventing their careers and with it the future of business. With engaging articles and interactive tools, Project Eve motivates women to think beyond traditional boundaries, support one another, embrace change and view challenges as opportunities.”
 
 
The War Within: PTSD by Ginger Kadlec

The War Within: PTSD  quote from this website…

“I’m just beginning to learn more about PTSD thanks to one of my new social media connections, Steve Sparks. Steve is an engaged PTSD activist and has made it his life mission to raise awareness and knowledge of this disorder and help victims who suffer.”

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Kudos to the exceptional leadership of women entrepreneurs of the 21st Century!  My life experience and career have shown me that there is huge potential in leadership capacity and creativity among women of all ages.  Women from my own career and generation of boomers, including my current work in community service and non-profits, take ownership and inspire others.  There is a level of tolerance among professional women that we do not always see in men.  Don’t get me wrong, I admire many professional men who are great leaders making a huge difference as entrepreneurs building a culture of success in their own field of work and personal life.  I also admire my boomer men and women friends and colleagues who continue to lead long after retirement, making big contributions to communities everywhere. 

I have seen women knocked down and pushed back during my life, including my own macho family culture during childhood and in my long business career.  As a young man moving up in my own professional career in the IT/telecommunications world, I could see the enthusiasm and drive among young women who were inspired to do more with their lives.  I brought them into my sales team, and WOW, what a difference this made in team performance!  The entire team performed far better with a good balance of gender, personalities, and skill sets.  Empowerment was a key factor in our success, and women often loved it more than men.  The biggest thing I noticed many years ago while in the prime of my own career, women professionals created a higher standard of team excellence, showing others how to be proactive and make it happen in the competitive world of telecommunications. 

So, in my zest to promote aspiring women (and men) of all ages to become entrepreneurs, I support the work of “Project Eve…Inspiring women reinventing their careers…”  It is also a pleasure to be given an opportunity through my own social media following to share the passion and creative works of Ginger KadlecThe War Within: PTSD, posted on the Project Eve blog.

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story  click to order…
  
 


 

 

Child Abuse Kills a Kid’s Soul! “The War Within: PTSD” by Ginger Kadlec…

The War Within: PTSD blog posting by Ginger Kadlec

Ginger Kadlec

The War Within: PTSD  quote from this website…

“I’m just beginning to learn more about PTSD thanks to one of my new social media connections, Steve Sparks. Steve is an engaged PTSD activist and has made it his life mission to raise awareness and knowledge of this disorder and help victims who suffer.”
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I wrote to Ginger Kadlec today thanking her for teaming up and collaborating to advance the cause of  child abuse awareness.  We must talk more about how children are affected living in a home with a parent suffering from the symptoms of PTSD and moral injury…  Following is my e-mail to Ginger… 

Ginger,
Your post is very moving to read.  The message of awareness and healing touched my heart.   When I first started to write and talk about this subject it felt like I was doing something wrong, revealing bad secrets if you will.  But now it feels like the most important mission of my life in helping countless others to not feel alone and isolated.  Child abuse kills a kid’s soul!  
Thank you for helping to bring more attention to our mutual cause to prevent child abuse and help the tens of thousands affected heal from the lingering lifetime pain.
I plan to post your message on my blog with your permission. 
I hope we have a chance to meet in the near future and continue our work as a team.
With deep respect and warmest regards…
Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story  click to order or download Kindle version…

“Signs of life, the way we were…” So healing for me to return to my roots as a young man in Hermosa Beach, California…

After 7 decades, “The Green Store” at 22nd St. and Hermosa Ave. Hermosa Beach, Ca. is closing…

 

“Signs of life, the way we were…”  My favorite quote from this site…

“Told your parents that you were staying over at your girlfriend’s house, and they did the same, when actually we were with girls and boys, drinking some Boone’s Farm, burning an old surfboard at 8th Street and sleeping overnight on the beach in sleeping bags, back when that was safe.”


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I lived right across the street from The Green Store in Hermosa Beach, Ca from late 1965 to early 1968…  The Facebook page “growing up in Hermosa & Manhattan Beach…” has given me tears for more than one reason.  These were the years following my tour of duty in the US Navy when the ocean and surfing was dear to my heart.  It was healing to be on the ocean as it is today on the Central Oregon Coast these many years later.  My first daughter, Deanna, was born on this day July 15, 1968.  She still lives just a few miles away from Hermosa Beach near Pt. Fermin Park with her husband James See.  My son-in-law James See is a surfing legend and makes the well known “Onion” brand surf boards near Pt Fermin Park…

I called my daughter Deanna and James last night to say Happy Birthday to my “little girl.”  We talked along time about “the way we were” back in the day.  James wanted to know where we lived after Deanna (Dee) was born in Redondo Beach, Ca.  Deanna reminded me that she used to give me a towel when she was a toddler after hitting the waves in Hermosa Beach way back then… 

I cried with joy thinking about back in the day when all the dreams were just getting started and also the big challenges that always go with us during our journey in life.  It is a blessing to be around today at the prime age of 67 to enjoy the power of social media.  Without this magical technology it would have been nearly impossible to reconnect with so many old friends in Hermosa Beach, including some of the legendary surf dudes, we all admired…Greg Noll, Mike Purpus, Bing Copeland, Hap Jacobs, and Dewey Weber to name a few… I put Greg Noll in front because I bought my very first surfboard from Greg right around 1960 at his shop on Pier Ave., and PCH.  And now, it really bothers so many of us with Hermosa Beach roots to see The Green Store closing.  Change is good in my view.  But there are just some things very special in life that you don’t want to see changed, and The Green Store is on my list…

Happy Birthday to my loving daughter, Deanna Sparks See!


Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story  click to order…