Monthly Archives: January 2014

PTSD and The Effects on Generations of Children… Steve Sparks…Blog Talk Radio with Debbie Sprague on January 28, 2014…

Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Click and order paperback or download Kindle version.  Buy my book at Barnes & Noble as well… Thank you! Steve Sparks, Author

FamilyOfaVet.com

FamilyOfaVet.com

Steve Sparks Blog Talk Radio FamiliyofaVet Jan28th  Introduction from this website… Click to listen…

Join Family of a Vet Blog Talk Radio Show on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 with show host Debbie Sprague and guest Steve Sparks, Vietnam Veteran and the child of a veteran of  World War II and the Korean war.  Steve will share his experiences and insights of a child living in the world of PTSD with his father, and how that experience shaped his life, but also carried forward into his own military experience,  Steve will share tips how we can be better prepared to live with PTSD today, and protet our children from the adverse affects.

http://www.familyofavet.com/

I was honored to be invited for an interview on this important topic with Debbie Sprague.  The interview is very comprehensive, detailing my childhood experience during the those “too terrible to remember 50’s” when my memory was most vivid. While painful to discuss my childhood, Debbie helped me put a frame around this subject and guided me so that we captured, in constructive and healing ways, what it was like growing up in a highly toxic home as a post WWII and Korean War military child.

The entire one hour podcast is available for listening at your convenience. The clip can be stopped or moved forward at any time.  I would very much appreciate feedback and questions from my readership audience.  The interview offers a true story and facts about my own childhood experience and can be used as a reference to develop actions connected with military family challenges in life after combat, especially interacting with kids. This is an opportunity to learn from just one of thousands of post WWII families when we had virtually no awareness of the effects of moral injury, PTSD, and the consequences of traumatic life events…  Most of the true events and experiences from this interview are captured in my book as well.

There is much to learn from the stories we can share as children growing up in a military culture in the often challenging emotional circumstances surrounding parents who serve America in combat.  The invisible wounds of war live with society for generations.  We must find ways to break the cycle of pain and heal from the trauma of war.  Keeping trauma bottled up inside might be a temporary fix, but tends to rear its ugly head in inevitable, painful. and untimely ways.  My favorite quote by Maya Angelou sums it up… “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.”

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

stevesparks@wavecable.com

Twitter… Steve Sparks @shsparks63

The Easter Seals Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services…”Focusing on the education needs of young children of military members, veterans and families of the fallen.”

Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Click and order paperback or download Kindle version.  Buy my book at Barnes & Noble as well… Thank you! Steve Sparks, Author
Mrs. Mullen emphasizing the importance of focusing on the education needs of young children of military members, veterans and families of the fallen.

         Dixon Center Model of Excellence

Kimberly M. Mitchell click on link…quoting.. 

Article Author:
David Sutherland
Date Written: 

Monday, September 16, 2013

“You may have seen Kim Mitchell’s inspiring story on CBS News or on the home page of Dixon Center’s website.  In the story, you see how Kim was reunited recently with the Vietnamese soldier that picked her up as an infant lying on the side of a road in Vietnam and brought her to the convent where she was ultimately adopted by an American airman and his wife.”

The Dixon Center…  Quote from the official website of Dixon Center…

“Dixon Center is strengthening communities to enable our veterans and their families to thrive where they live by building partnerships, sharing innovations and connecting those who have served to supports and services.”

*****
I was honored today to receive a phone call from Kimberly M. MitchellPresident and Co-Founder of Easter Seals Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services.  I knew just a little about the Dixon Center when recently discovering their website, but did not know Kimberly until reading her follow-up email.  I was moved that she would take the personal time to call me, but now understand why…  I was especially honored after reading her own heartwarming story as referenced above.

I wrote to the Dixon Center this last week and asked them how my work with children and PTSD awareness could help make a difference.  I gave Kimberly an impromptu overview on the phone of my work, including non-fiction book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story, Blog, and charity, Neighbors for Kids, Depoe Bay, Oregon. After reviewing Dixon Center’s website in much more detail I could see that their focus is on military children and families, very much the same as me.  I could also see that Dixon Center believes that success in delivering services and support to the families of veterans depends on strong partnerships and collaborations. Most importantly, the huge emphasis on youth education really got my attention!  My passion and work with educating kids and advancing the cause of PTSD awareness is a perfect fit…

The first step in collaborating is to share with my followers the exciting vision and model of Dixon Center.

“Imagine organizations that share a common vision coming together and creating new and better models of service…models that can dramatically improve the long-term educational goals for our veterans and their families.”
Dixon Center Imagining Collective Impact, Sept. 13, 2013

Thank you again Ms. Kimberly M. Mitchell for calling me and spending so much quality time listening to my story and discussing the heartwarming mutual work we do on behalf of the children and families of veterans.  I am looking forward to a follow-up conversation to explore ideas to collaborate by offering my personal and professional experience with the families of veterans and also the potential partnership with Neighbors for Kids, a highly successful after-school program on the Central Coast of Oregon.  We can all do so much more as a team, sharing innovative ideas and resources!

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

and

Vice Chair

Neighbors for Kids




Music and video to start off your Sunday the right way… Craig Morgan – That’s What I Love About Sunday…

Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Click and order paperback or download Kindle version.  Buy my book at Barnes & Noble as well… Thank you! Steve Sparks, Author

“What I love about Sunday!”  click here for this video clip and song by Craig Morgan…

ABC News’ Producer Angel Canales and Editor Arthur Niemynski report:
Born in the small town of Kingston Springs, Tenn., Craig Morgan was always surrounded by music. His father was a bass player and that gave Morgan close access to classic country stars such as Vern Gosdin, George Jones and Tammy Wynette, among others.

Craig Morgan…  Quote from the official website of Craig Morgan…

Craig Morgan To Launch 2014 Tour This Month

VA MORTGAGE LEADER PRESENTS
CRAIG MORGAN THE JOURNEY TOUR 2014
DATES ARE ANNOUNCED

Special guest Chad Warrix to open dates February through April

Country music star and award-winning TV host Craig Morgan announced the first leg of his 2014 tour, VA Mortgage Leader Presents Craig Morgan The Journey Tour. The first date launches January 21 in West Palm Beach, Florida with twenty shows already on the books from February through April. VA Mortgage Leader is the title sponsor of the tour.

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Now and then sharing special music and songs is healing for me and hopefully for others who follow my blog.  My friend, Jenny Green, shared Craig Morgan’s music today.  I loved it so much that sharing it with all my friends and followers is a nice break from the more serious postings. Enjoy a beautiful Sunday where ever it takes you today!  Check out Craig Morgan’s 2014 Tour and all of his music…

Steve Sparks
Author

Homeless Children of Military Veterans… My experience as a former military child who became homeless… by Jenny Green

Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Click and order paperback or download Kindle version.  Buy my book at Barnes & Noble as well… Thank you! Steve Sparks, Author
Jenny Green at age 9 as a military child…
Jenny Green college graduate…
Jenny Green at work ODFW
jenny.osu.oregon@gmail

Homeless Military Children  Quote from this website article by BEST PRACTICES IN INTER-AGENCY COLLABORATION… Supporting School Success for… Homeless Children 
of Veterans and Active Duty Military Members
“Over the course of the 2009-2010 school year,
school districts across the country identified nearly
one million children and youth experiencing
homelessness, including some whose parents are
active duty members of the military.”

****
I am honored and delighted to introduce Jenny Green, a former military brat who survived and is thriving today as a young adult.  Jenny found herself in a horrific circumstance at age 10 following her return to the US from her father’s military duty station in Germany.  Jenny is a graduate of Oregon State University with a BS in Fish and Wildlife Sciences.  For eight months of the year she works for Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Port Sampler, at the Port of Depoe Bay, Oregon.  At the same time she is also employed as the science and technology teacher at Neighbors for Kids (NFK) in Depoe Bay, Oregon.   Jenny is an outstanding member and contributor of NFK’s “Kids Zone” signature after-school program.  Jenny cares deeply for the kids and the community we serve.  She also has a passion for teaching science and technology to help children prepare for a future in the 21st Century.

Jenny and I have much in common.  We are both military brats who survived toxic circumstances during our childhood years.  We both have parents who served in severe combat and suffered from the symptoms of PTSD. We were both affected by the toxic circumstances of growing up in homes that lived and coped with PTSD and moral injury from traumatic life events.  We are both passionate about education and making a difference for kids in our community, working on behalf of the mission of Neighbors for Kids.  Jenny is my dear friend and hero who works everyday helping kids discover the endless possibilities and opportunities in life as they grow into healthy, happy, and productive adults…  Following is Jenny Green’s story of surviving and thriving…in life after trauma…  


Steve Sparks

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

Homeless Children of Military Veterans… My experience as a former military child who became homeless… by Jenny Green

Close to a year ago, little did I know that I would befriend someone who shares somewhat similar experiences from childhood as me.  Although these experiences are generations apart, they are rooted from the same source…both our fathers experienced PTSD from war.  My friend Steve’s father suffered PTSD from WWII and Korean War, while my father suffers PTSD from Vietnam. I am glad I am friends with Steve; he helped me to realize that I am not the only one out there with effects from a family members fight with this dilemma. Now I know that I am not my own little island in the sea of humanity, there are many of us islands.
I was fortunate enough as a child to live in Italy and Germany as a military brat. Dad was active duty and a Vietnam vet with USMC and later enlisted with the U.S. Army. What I didn’t realize then, was that he had PTSD. When he would yell, scream, and smack me around I thought it was normal, in fact, to me it was a simple fact of life. What I also didn’t realize, was how my Dad’s PTSD affected my Mom as well. She would go to work early, come home late, and work many weekends for the Stars and Strips Newspaper; staying away from Dad as much as possible. I did not know my mother, and she did not know me, and the only thing I knew of my Dad was the abuse and anger he had towards me.
That was my life ’till I was almost 10 years old, then the apple cart was turned upside down, we moved back from overseas.  Dad divorced Mom about a year and a half after we returned leaving us in southern Indiana, and Dad left for good to Michigan. Once Mom realized he was never coming back, the monster she had harbored came out with a vengeance, secondary PTSD.
When Dad left, I was lucky enough to be at my Grandmother’s house, as she took us in for six months. Mom slept 14 to 18 hours a day, only getting up to go to use the bathroom, and then back to bed to either sleep or lie there and cry. Finally my Grandmother had enough of us being in her house and forced my Mom and I out, leaving us at a public housing office. After a few nights in a shelter, we were placed in a small public housing apartment called, “White Court” in New Albany, In.
I thought this move was going to help give my Mom momentum with having a fresh start; indeed this was not the case, her PTSD got worse. I had to wear the same pair of socks for 8 months; they smelled like ammonia, were caked with filth and were literally plastered to my feet. When I had shoes, I walked out of them at the toes and wear them for months in that condition. My jeans and t-shirt were stained with wearing them for weeks straight day and night, as I did not have night pajamas. There was no washer and dryer, no laundry mat in walking distance, and she would not buy soap or a bucket to wash clothes.                                
There was never any food in the house, and if there was something in the fridge it was usually what someone was tossing out because it was spoiling. I was at least lucky to have free lunch from my elementary school, so I knew I could have a meal once a day during the school year. I relied on that food, as it was literally all I had in my life. I hated summers because I would miss out on the lunches from school and would scrap together meager meals of stale hamburger buns and souring bologna, bologna so soured that there was a white pasty film on it that I would scrap off.
It was during one of these summers when I was 12 about to be 13 and had to attend summer school, that Mom closed the door to me. It was my last day of elementary school, when I got home all the doors and windows were locked and Mom was not answering. I sat on the porch till 10pm wondering what had happened, asking neighbors if they had seen anyone at the apartment, nothing. I went to a 5th grade friend’s house, but her family did not want anything to do with stained clothed, ammonia smelling kid; they told me to leave and not return.
 Under the glow of the dim street light I slept on the porch that night.  The next morning I walked downtown to the amphitheater next to the Ohio River. I would sleep in and around this amphitheater for the next three months. Summer school did not serve lunch, so at night for food I would dig in the dumpsters of the local restaurants after they had closed. I remember eating half eaten fried chicken legs, macaroni salad with my fingers, licking pie filling off of paper plates, and using old napkins with lipstick stains smeared on them.

 I remember being afraid to sleep outside at night; so I would walk around town, watch the trains, or sit and listen to the coal barges and tugs going up and down the Ohio River till dawn. I was also afraid of the local law enforcement, as I was scared of getting in trouble for being homeless and filthy. I did not know at the time that they would actually have helped me. I kept going home every other day and knocking on the door and no one ever answered, even though I could see the mail was picked up and curtains were moved.
The day 7th grade started, again I went back home and knocked on the door. To my surprise my mom answered the door. Dark circles under her eyes, dirty clothes, and matted hair is how she greeted me. I asked where she had been, and all she could say was that she had been busy. I told her 7th grade started today and I need her to go register me for school at the junior high, she agreed and we walked to school. I walk in the office with the same jeans, t-shirt, socks, and shoes I had been wearing for four months since the end of April, as people are staring at us I get registered for school and receive my class schedule. 
Second period was pre-algebra, and I hated math but I did not know that my life was about to change. I met my best friend Tracy, she didn’t care what I looked like or smelled like. In fact, later in the school year her Mom and Dad invited me over to their house as often as I wanted. They fed me, washed my clothes, and let me shower. By 8th grade I was living in their house. Mom still had custody of me but she allowed for my move. I was in their household ’till just after high school graduation with a 3.75 GPA, college bound, clean clothes and good food. 

Someone had finally given me a chance to survive, and I thrived…

                              *****
       Note:  I invited Jenny to write for this blog, including follow-up stories about military family life, the plight of homeless military kids, and other topics related to surviving and thriving in her years since graduating from college.  I am very grateful for Jenny’s passion and interest in making a difference for others by contributing to the cause of PTSD & moral injury awareness… Jenny can be contacted by email, jenny.osu.oregon@gmail

Steve Sparks

“Nurturing Your Family- Everyday Moments… FIVE WAYS TO KEEP YOUR FAMILY HAPPY AND STRONG….”

Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Click and order paperback or download Kindle version.  Buy my book at Barnes & Noble as well… Thank you! Steve Sparks, Author

Parenting…”One Tough Job”
 On-line Resource for Real Live Parents

Keeping your family happy & strong…  Quote from this website article…5 ways to keep your family happy & strong…

  • Nurture your child’s social and emotional growth. Make sure that your children know that they are loved and respected, that they can talk about their feelings, and that you can help them work through any challenges that they may face.
    • Listen to your child and encourage her to express how she feels. Help your child problem solve by allowing her to make suggestions and think through problems she may encounter.
    • Show your love. Small, simple gestures everyday are the best ways to show your child you love him. For ten easy ways to show your child you love them click here.
Read aLoud 15 minutes per day to your kids!  Quote from this website…

  Downloads… go to this link…


MISSION/STORY
Read Aloud 15 MINUTES is a non-profit organization that is working to make reading aloud every day for at least 15 minutes the new standard in child care. When every child is read aloud to for 15 minutes every day from birth, more children will be ready to learn when they enter kindergarten, more children will have the literacy skills needed to succeed in school, and more children will be prepared for a productive and meaningful life after school.
Reading aloud is the single most important thing a parent or caregiver can do to improve a child’s readiness to read and learn.
By making 15 minutes of daily reading aloud the new parenting standard, we will change the face of education in this country.
*****

I was reminded today of one of the most important ways to nurture kids…social and emotional growth. Make it a practice to read to them each day aloud for 15 minutes…  You can do this at home and in a literacy group with other parents and kids at a local school venue.  At Neighbors for Kids, “KIds Zone,” we host a Family Literacy Night each month to encourage parents and children to work as a team to build literacy skills…reading, writing, & oral language.  The research shows the amazing benefits of making this commitment as a family.  The parent involvement component also helps to nurture a happier and stronger family life referenced in the “One Tough Job” resource website.  Also check out the “Read Aloud 15 Minutes” website to learn more about the value of disciplined daily reading for kids.   Download the calendar referenced above to facilitate a daily reading program with your children.  It is easy…just 15 minutes a day!  

When parents exhibit positive attitudes toward reading and actually “read aloud” they will help kids build language and literacy skills.  Kids also learn early about the world, social skills, and coping strategies. All of this goes along way in keeping your family happy and strong.  It goes even further by providing your children with the very best tools to be successful and to help make the experience in school fun each day.

Steve Sparks
Author

“Inspire the World” by Jessica Lynn Solsona… Why do loved ones often stand away from protecting children who are abused?

Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Click and order paperback or download Kindle version.  Buy my book at Barnes & Noble as well… Thank you! Steve Sparks, Author

Jessica Lynn Solsona, “Inspire the World!”  click on this interview clip…

Inspire the World!  Quote from this website article by Jessica Lynn Solsona… click the link and read more…

WHY THIS MEANS SO MUCH TO ME!

To get to know why I want change, please read a little about me! 
“I was molested every night as a child from the age 3 till 8 years old by my step dad. My mother knew and chose to do nothing. She would allow me to stay with him and please him by giving him what he wanted. She would tell me she hated me because in her mind he paid more attention to me then her. My mother ripped up and took away everything I liked. I had to learn to not have feelings in front of her so she would not take my favorite thing’s or person away. She abused me so bad that I wished I was dead. I learned how to please her and do nice things for her to have a better day with no abuse.” 

*****

In my own military childhood experience in a highly toxic home during the 50’s and early 60’s, I could never understand why Mother would allow Dad to beat us and emotionally abuse his family right in front of all of us!  I hated my Dad for the degrading and abusive treatment of all of us.  I hated Mother too for not protecting us under some really scary circumstances at times.  Why didn’t she just call “911” and have Dad taken away?  Why didn’t she pick up a baseball bat and hit him on the head, while watching the huge bully punch us kids in the head in a fit of rage?  None of this torture and pain left the home in discussions or complaints to anyone.  It was a big secret.  We lied to our friends, teachers, and coaches.  We would not dare bring it up because we didn’t believe anyone would understand or care.  We also knew that if word got back that we were treated this way, there would be denial by our parents. And sooner or later more beatings and punishment would come our way.  

Mother was scared too!  I know now after all these years that my parents were both scared.  Dad was in constant emotional pain from serving in extended combat during WWII as a US Navy veteran, and deployment during the Korean War.  None of us, even Mother and Dad, understood moral injury and PTSD during the “too terrible to remember 50’s.”  Children inhale the pain of parents under these circumstances and become affected with secondary PTSD and worse yet Complex PTSD.  (Click link to learn more…)

Mother was no different than thousands of other military spouses & moms of that period. They were all post war caregivers to warriors learning to cope and live with PTSD on the fly.  There was a “suck it up” mentality because we had no choice in the matter.  Mental health science and treatment was virtually non-existent at the time.  It was easier just to sweep it all under the rug, if we could.  But we know now that all the PTSD baggage moved forward into adult life with our generation and the next…

And so we try to heal in the 21st Century and break the cycle of pain forever…  But it takes heroes like Jessica Lynn Solsona and many others to break the silence to help educate the world on the painful subject of child abuse and life after trauma.  I am encouraged each day by my own journey of healing, and inspired more by learning about so many others who make a difference in the quest to advance the cause of awareness.  I am moved by Jessica’s work and passion to help others today, and want the rest of the world to know about her story.  Thank you Jessica for helping all of us heal!  You are a hero!

Steve Sparks
Author

You don’t have to go all the way to the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii to find BIG WAVES! “Big wave surfing in Lincoln City at the Nelscott Reef surf contest.”

Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Click and order paperback or download Kindle version.  Buy my book at Barnes & Noble as well… Thank you! Steve Sparks, Author

Nelscott Reef, Lincoln City, Oregon January 14, 2014

Oregon’s Nelscott Big Wave Contest January 19, 2012  Quote from this website article published in the Oregonian By Jamie Francis | jfrancis@oregonian.com 
Email the author | Follow on Twitter 
on January 19, 2014 at 3:01 PM, updated January 19, 2014 at 3:06 PM

“A dozen big wave surfers braved the 52-degree Pacific Sunday  at Lincoln City to participate in the Nelscott Reef surf contest. The big waves form above the reef, about a mile off shore. The shore break was about 10-12 feet Sunday and the break on the reef was reported to be about 26-feet.”
*****
Surfing is one of my favorite “living in the moment” life experiences.  As a teen living in Southern California, and while serving in the US Navy at Pearl Harbor, surfing was my escape…  To this day, I am a big fan and yesterday was no exception watching tow surfing near my home on the Central Oregon Coast.  When I was diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety in 1965, my doctor encouraged me to continue my passion for the waves because it would be healing.

I have written in this blog about the value of “mindfulness” (click to reference post).  “In its simplest terms, being mindful is simply paying attention to the matter in hand. If you are writing a blog post, as I am now, just do that. If you are reading this blog post, as you are now, then just do that. When either my attention or yours wanders from our writing or our reading, we simply bring our focus back, and continue. That is being mindful.”

Writing is my way of practicing mindfulness or living in the moment these days.  I also crave the outdoors, including as a spectator, watching surfers or just enjoying the beauty of the beaches and ocean near my home.  You can practice living in the moment in many ways.  Just do the things you are passionate about, which focus your mind like a laser or make your heart pound with love and joy…  The emotional pain of past traumatic life events stay at a safe distance when mindfulness is achieved.  Hook up with a loved one or friend and practice living in the moment with others…

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

Explaining trauma to children is critical, but how and why? Don’t let kids inhale the pain of others suffering from trauma without a “calm” and less than emotional conversation…

Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Click and order paperback or download Kindle version.  Buy my book at Barnes & Noble as well… Thank you! Steve Sparks, Autho

Stand up to mental health “stigma” and ignorance…

How to explain trauma to kids?  Share a story… click this link for my own story as a military child exposed to trauma in a post WWII and Korean War era…1950’s to early 60’s…

Talking to Kids about Traumatic Experiences

“Be calm and clear. Children absorb your emotions along with your words.”  

Harold S. Koplewicz, MD

President
CHILD MIND INSTITUTE

I received an email last week from a mother who is a survivor of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. She described to me how one week after the attacks she’d learned she was pregnant. “Fast forward nine years,” she wrote. “I want to know how and when to tell my son what I went through.”

This mother is hardly alone: Many parents worry about how to explain painful or disturbing experiences to their kids. So here are eight rules for talking to kids about trauma.

Rule 4: Tell your story calmly. If you talk to your child about traumatic experiences in a highly emotional way, then he will likely absorb your emotion and very little else. If, on the other hand, you remain calm, he is likely to grasp what’s important: that what happens in the world can upset our lives, even deeply, but we can learn from bad experiences and work together to recover and even grow stronger. A child who lives with a distressed parent often learns to be apprehensive. A child who lives with a resilient parent tends to show confidence and faith in the face of adversity.

*****
By clicking on the the website Child Mind Institute, you can read all 8 rules discussing how to talk to your children about life after trauma.  From my own experience as a military child, I picked Rule#4 as the most important reminder for me based on my memory at age 10 in our post WWII and Korean War home.
There was never anything about our home that felt secure, safe, and calm.  From my memory, the Sparks household was highly emotional and overwhelming.  Each day for the most part included crises.  Loud voices prevailed non-stop, especially when Dad, our resident “Chief Boatswain Mate” was home from his work at the US Naval Training Center in Great Lakes, Illinois.  As a result of the highly emotional, intense. and scary circumstances of our home, there were not very many discussions we could absorb in a positive and constructive way, except when the early years of the Walt Disney program was on TV.  We were never able to discover why our parents were so angry and depressed most of the time because they were rarely calm about anything.  There were times when Dad would briefly and in a angry loud voice discuss his complaint…”I fought two wars and no one cares.”  We would immediately march out of the living room to our own bedroom or go outside to play.  We were never able to understand what he was talking about.  In fact, the angry mood and outrage scared us away.  My mother would also become upset with the conversation and suggest they should not talk about it because it was too painful and not really a concern to us siblings.
My recommendation is for parents to receive professional help before they talk to their kids about trauma so that they learn to engage with children in a calm and constructive manner.  The worst thing parents can do is start talking to the kids about the subject of coping and living with PTSD when emotionally challenged.  It may be helpful to use a trusted family member or friend to help with the conversation at the appropriate time and place.  Often making this happen is difficult because families living and coping with life after trauma find themselves isolated and demonstrate dissociative behaviors.   When friends or family do come around, it provides a distraction from the pain and denial sets in.  There is also a risk of alcohol use, which often exacerbates the problem.
Creating a calm atmosphere in the home to discuss the challenges of life after trauma is at best difficult.  We parents must be aware of how our kids respond to sensitive discussions before we attempt to communicate with them with the goal of healing as a family.  Once we understand the game plan, and get professional help with preparation, we can then begin taking baby steps in discussing the topic of trauma and how the entire family can work together as a team to heal…  Do not try to wing it!  The reality of those years during my childhood is that my Mom & Dad would have never considered professional help…”that’s for crazy people,” they would say…  I hope the reception for mental health treatment is more favorable to parents in the 21st Century…  Don’t let the kids fend for themselves.  They will certainly carry the baggage forward as adults…
Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story  click to order…

Many children are exposed to traumatic life events… Parents need to be more aware of the consequences affecting their own children in life after trauma…

Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Click and order paperback or download Kindle version.  Buy my book at Barnes & Noble as well… Thank you! Steve Sparks, Author

The subjective “lived” experiences of a child of a warrior…

Children and Life after Trauma…  Quote from this website article…from the American Psychological Association

Many children are exposed to traumatic life events

A significant number of children in American society are exposed to traumatic life events. A traumatic event is one that threatens injury, death, or the physical integrity of self or others and also causes horror, terror, or helplessness at the time it occurs. Traumatic events include sexual abuse, physical abuse, domestic violence, community and school violence, medical trauma, motor vehicle accidents, acts of terrorism, war experiences, natural and human-made disasters, suicides, and other traumatic losses. In community samples, more than two thirds of children report experiencing a traumatic event by age 16. However, estimates of trauma exposure rates and subsequent psychological sequelae among children and youth have varied depending on the type of sample, type of measure, informant source, and other factors.

These include:

  • ·         the development of new fears
  • ·         separation anxiety (particularly in young children)
  • ·         sleep disturbance, nightmares
  • ·         sadness
  • ·         loss of interest in normal activities
  • ·         reduced concentration
  • ·         decline in schoolwork
  • ·         anger
  • ·         somatic complaints
  • ·         irritability






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Please click to reference my recent blog posts, “Don’t forget the children who live and cope with PTSD…” and “What is traumatic stress like for a child?” 

My goal with today’s post is to continue providing references and resources to help parents, family members, and loved ones capture what it is like for a kid to experience traumatic events and the life-long implications.  Prolonged exposure to trauma and emotional neglect is often present in a toxic home where parents suffer from the symptoms of PTSD and moral injury.  

My parents were completely ignorant of how their emotional challenges and symptoms of anger and depression affected us siblings, especially during the 1950’s and early 1960’s.  During those troublesome and scary years following Dad’s extended combat duty in all of WWII and subsequent deployment during the Korean War, our parents were severely affected and had no treatment or guidance whatsoever.  We children were directly affected by the toxic home life as well.  The above list of symptoms were mostly prevalent in our home among all of the children…  

Once Dad retired from the US Navy in 1958 after 22 years serving America, he chose a second career as a 1st responder working for the Federal Bureau of Prisons.  His post Naval career choice was highly consistent with his experience and skill sets, but not so healthy for his mental disposition at the time.  Dad was an excellent correctional officer and moved up the ranks before he finally retired after 18 years of service.  It is common for many career military men and women to choose a second career as a 1st responder. There were never any tests during that time to help determine the emotional stability and suitability for warriors to work in a sensitive and high risk 1st responder career. Consequently, children, family members and loved ones suffered a huge responsibility and burden of living and coping with the symptoms of PTSD for decades and were often affected with the same secondary PTSD symptoms as a post WWII combat veteran and second career 1st responder. 

Even with the high level of awareness and treatment strategies available in the 21st Century, it is still challenging to convince warriors to immediately seek out treatment following deployment or in retirement because of the fear of not being hired.  And we still see exceptionally qualified retired military men and women choose a second career as 1st responders.  It is my profound desire and hope that as more parents who suffer from PTSD understand the risks of affecting their children, steps will be taken early to receive on-going treatment and therefore protect the kids from secondary exposure to PTSD and carrying the emotional baggage forward as an adult.  It is also true that more often than not children of warriors who suffer from secondary PTSD do not recognize the need for treatment themselves. 

The important work of awareness is critical!  Our best hope for a positive outcome is to educate parents on how to protect children from the secondary effects of PTSD, including the more serious consequence of Complex PTSD.  

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

Kids can and should get involved in supporting our heroes! Meet Cody Jackson & One Boy USO! “It’s okay to be patriotic!

Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Click and order paperback or download Kindle version.  Buy my book at Barnes & Noble as well… Thank you! Steve Sparks, Author

Cody Jackson, Author
The kids from Kids Zone taking ownership for the Ron Slane VFW Memorial

Kids supporting veterans…  Quote from website “One Boy USO.

About the Author
Cody Jackson is a pint-sized patriot and the One Boy USO, who, at the age of nine, has already thanked 10,000+ of our country’s heroes.
It all began when Cody was four, with a simple question: “Why is it so hard to get on a plane?” Ever since the moment that his parents explained, as well as possible, the event of 9/11, Cody has been a new boy. Every day, he goes out of his way to thank our military men and women. Then, as a way to thank more “soldiers” more often, Cody began collecting donations to help fund care packages to ship to deployed troops.
After noticing the lack of patriotism in his peers, Cody wanted to let other kids know “It’s okay to be patriotic! If I can do it, you can too!” He has written his patriotic children’s books to share his love of America and her military, and hopes to help other children love their country and troops as much as he does!
A portion of all sales of Cody’s books will go toward his efforts as the One Boy USO at OneBoyUSO.com.
His Facebook page for the book can also be found at: 

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I have always supported getting kids involved as patriots by joining the campaign for creating awareness and supporting veterans and 1st responders.  I do this through my work as vice chair of Neighbors for Kids (NFK) in Depoe Bay, Oregon. I write about how life after war affects children in my book and in this blog.  One of the best ways to get kids to pay attention to America’s veterans is to get them engaged.  Children can make a difference the same as we adults who are involved in supporting the children and families of veterans everywhere.

Just this last summer NFK’s “Kids Zone” teens helped out during the Celebration of Honor event in Lincoln City, Oregon by serving as sentries at the American Veterans Traveling Tribute (AVTT) staged at Chinook Winds Casino.  Also each year our kids provide upkeep and gardening support for our Ronald Allen Slane VFW Memorial in Depoe Bay, Oregon.  Once children get connected to veterans directly and learn about service, sacrifice, honor, and duty, they become very passionate about the cause. Most importantly they begin learning more about their own families history of serving America as 1st responders and in the military…  Many have parents, grand parents, and great grand parents who served. Kids often never hear about the the service and sacrifice of family members because it can be painful discussion, especially when loved ones are lost in the line of duty, or they suffered from traumatic events while serving in combat or at home as a 1st responder.

Don’t hesitate to get kids engaged in supporting awareness for the service and sacrifices of veterans and 1st responders.  It is a valuable learning experience and can be very healing as well.

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