Monthly Archives: November 2014

Help a Military Family During this Holiday Season…

 

currentneeds-thumbnail-color

They give their all for you, give back to them now…

Operation Homefront…  Click on this highlighted link to learn more how to help…  Quote from this website…

“A national nonprofit, Operation Homefront leads more than 2,500 volunteers with nationwide presence who provide emergency and other financial assistance to the families of service members and wounded warriors. Operation Homefront has provided assistance to thousands of military families since its inception in 2002. Recognized for superior performance by leading independent charity watchdog groups, nationally, 93 percent of total donations to Operation Homefront go directly to programs that provide support to our military families.”

#####

It was challenging growing up during mid 1940’s and 1950’s as a US Navy military child.  My father was a Chief Boatswains Mate (BMC) training boots at both the US Naval Training Centers, in San Diego and Great Lakes.  I remember the worst of it while we lived in Waukegan, Ill.  Like many veterans of hard combat from WWII and Korean War, my father was challenged in making enough money for our family to survive.  Dad also struggled with his own demons connected with experiencing so much death and destruction as a wartime veteran.  We were a family torn apart by war and lived under toxic circumstances at home.  It was scary so much of the time that I refer to this period in my young life as “the too terrible to remember 1950’s.”

Veterans of 21st Century wars and military families still have the same kind of challenges in post deployment life as we did following 20th Century wars, including WWII, Korean War, Vietnam, and the Gulf War.  It is often tough for a military family to make ends meet.  It is even harder for military spouses and children to learn how to cope with the caregiving duties of a father or mother who come home injured with physical and mental wounds that require a lifetime of treatment and tender loving care.   It can be a lonely place in life for a military family, especially around the holiday season.  The children can suffer the most from feeling scared and isolated in communities everywhere…

We can help by simply acknowledging and thanking veterans for their service, including the entire military family.  Help get these families engaged in the community.  Make sure they feel welcome, and give them an opportunity make a difference.  You can also click on the Operation Homefront website and learn about specific needs of military families in your community and do more.

Please make an effort to reach out to military families during this holiday season, or for that matter anytime of the year.  We need to care for our veterans in the same way they cared for us while deployed, fighting to protect the freedoms we enjoy as Americans.  We have much to be thankful for, and owe so much to our veterans.  Keep the children and families of warriors in your thoughts and prayers, and reach out and help a military family directly if there is an opportunity to do so…

All the best during this 2014 Holiday Season…

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1…  Click on the highlighted links for my author page…

Member, Oregon Coast Veterans Association  Click highlighted text for Facebook page…

Why Beating & Scaring the Hell Out of Your Child Matters!

Minnesota Vikings v St. Louis Rams

“What Adrian Peterson did was wrong. That’s fact, not opinion. And yet, for so many, they don’t accept that. Why?”  Quote from…

Headshot

 Become a fan 

Husband. Father. Writer. Founder of Daddyfiles.com

 

“Why it doesn’t matter if that was how you were raised…”  A Huffington Post article by Aaron Gouvela…

“Allow me to bottom line this for you. If you think hitting your kid with a stick until he bleeds is an acceptable form of punishment, you’re a bad parent. And, more than likely, you’re engaging in a criminal act. Your culture, race, ethnicity, and upbringing don’t matter in this instance. I don’t care where you’re from or what color you are, because when you decide to whip your 4-year-old with the branch of a tree, you are committing a crime. And I hope you face the same charges Peterson is facing.”

#####

I welcomed the news today that Adrian Peterson was suspended without pay from the Minnesota Vikings for the entire 2014 season!

I write about the intergenerational consequences of child abuse in my book.  I wrote this story of my family’s post WWII and Korean War struggles and the challenges of growing up in a toxic family culture because we were all morally injured from child abuse…a lifetime tragedy.  My father suffered terribly from the trauma of extended deployment as a US Navy wartime veteran.  His severe depression and anxiety can be described as showing the worst symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress (PTS).  My father was also beaten and abused as a child, compounding his own mental health issues.  During my young life there was little or no awareness, nor protection for kids who were abused.  I refer to the worst memories during my childhood as “the too terrible to remember 1950’s and early 1960’s.

The worst of my experiences as a child is best described from the following excerpt from my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story…

“As an added tragic note, my brother didn’t mention the time in Waukegan just before he entered the Navy, that Dad hit him in the head after Jerry was confronted in front of the house by some bullies. He almost took them all on and could have cleaned up since he was so strong. Dad hit his head so hard that it swelled up and we thought he needed medical attention. But Dad was afraid to take him to the hospital. Fortunately, Jerry recovered, but it is my opinion that this incident gave him a severe concussion that needed treatment. I know one thing for sure, as a little kid it hurt me deeply to see this happen. To this day I remember the terrible incident vividly. This horrid event is an example of a man who lived by day as a highly respected war hero training boots at the US Naval Training Center; and by night Dad was a mentally ill dangerous man who kept his family in a cage as victims of extreme abuse. None of us would talk about it for fear of being beaten. The US Navy did not see it, nor probably wanted to see it. This was a man who was solely responsible for our welfare and without him we would have been poor and homeless at the time. We had no choice but to live with him and to avoid his wrath as much as possible. None of us even understood the gravity of the situation until later. Denial certainly helped us survive but all the baggage is clear.”

Please get help if you find as a parent the need to “beat and scare the hell out of your child.”  By seeking treatment and support from the mental health professional community, you can stop the cycle of intergenerational child abuse, and break the cycle of emotional pain.  As an abused child from a time when there was complete denial and little awareness or treatment strategies, I still live with flashbacks at the prime age of 68.  My own journey of healing is a lifelong work in progress…  I also firmly believe that Minnesota Vikings star, Adrian Peterson, is a good person and will be a better father in the future… 

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1…

scan0001 (3)

Steve Sparks, 1956, age 10…”a very scary time in my life…”

Lost WWII Heroes Discovered in South Pacific…a profoundly healing legacy experience for loved ones…

HeroesPalau

Heroes of Palau…

Palau…Searching for Heroes…  Click on this powerful video clip…worth all 13 minutes!

Published on Nov 7, 2014

“Passion meets technology in the search for downed aircraft in the South Pacific. The BentProp Project is a group of volunteers who search for and help repatriate missing World War II Airmen. Their searches were long and arduous until they enlisted the scientific know-how of Scripps Institution of Oceanography-UCSD and The University of Delaware. What they find is truly inspiring.”

#####

Watching this inspiring and beautiful video clip moved me deeply.  I know more now of the empathy and passion I feel each and every day about the sacrifice of veterans of all wars, especially the children and families who never find out what happened to their loved ones injured or lost to wars long ago…  Once learning about my own father’s experience in WWII and my family’s post war emotional challenges living and caring for Dad, I had no idea this would be the beginning of my own journey of healing.  Millions of children and families live with the trauma connected with war and the lifelong generational struggle of the inherent trauma and the loss of loved ones.  There is too often silence among family members who have a deep desire to find peace of mind, but just “suck it up” and move on without the benefits of healing. 

I hope this powerful story moves your family to find out more about fathers, mothers, and grandparents who sacrificed for the freedoms we enjoy in America.  You can start your own journey of healing and make a difference for others at the same time.  We owe this to ourselves and the legacy of war we honor to learn more and to help our nation heal in life after war…

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1… 

Oregon Veterans Memorials Directory…Visit memorials close to home on this Veterans Day…

 

siteLogo

Veterans Memorials in Oregon…  click highlighted text…

 

Oregon Veterans Memorials Directory…  Click on highlighted text for more…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is a red granite memorial tablet mounted behind on a gray granite slab with an electric flame on a pedestal in front of the Lincoln County Courthouse.

Flame of Freedom…Newport, Oregon  Click highlighted text for more…

Two years ago while walking around our City Park in Depoe Bay, Oregon, I stopped to look closely at our town’s VFW Veterans Memorial.  When I looked closer, the name Ronald Allen Slane, Sp5, US Army 1967-68 was engraved on the plaque as an example to honor veterans of all wars.  Ron was a medic who died during an ambush in Vietnam while trying to save another soldier…he didn’t even have a weapon to defend himself.  “Ron Slane, Lincoln City, Oregon, volunteered to go to war as an army medic.  He was a conscientious objector, but believed he had a duty to serve in some way.”

Slane

Depoe Bay, Oregon VFW Memorial…Click photo for a larger view…

 

I have written many articles in this blog honoring veterans, including my father, Vernon H. Sparks US Navy WWII & Korean War.  It has been healing for me to visit veterans and 1st responder memorials during my travels around America since writing and publishing my book in November 2011.  I have written about my visits, including personal thoughts and reflections, in this blog since that time.  My most recent blog post during our travels to Long Beach, California was about the “Lone Sailor” Memorial, which was built on Ocean Avenue near where my mother lived with first born son, Gerald V. Sparks, while Dad was deployed on the USS West Virginia (BB48) during the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941.  My oldest brother, Jerry, was born three months before Pearl Harbor in September 1941.  Jerry is also a retired US Navy Vietnam Veteran with 30 years of service… I was, of course, born in July of 1946, because Dad survived WWII and came home in June of 1945 after many months fighting in the Pacific War…  Because Dad came home from WWII, Jerry was able to grow up with 3 brothers and one sister.

For me, and millions of kids born before and after WWII, Veterans Day, is very personal.  Now, in retirement, I devote much of my spare time honoring veterans of all wars, including my father, along with my mother and countless other military families of that time who served too…  I also honor my fellow veterans who served during the Vietnam War, and all the wars since then.  We can never thank our veterans and their families enough for serving America while protecting the freedoms we enjoy each and every day of our lives.  This is a debt that can never be paid back…

So, on this Veterans Day, go visit at least one veterans memorial close to home, and give thanks to all those who have served, who serve now, and will serve in the future, including 1st responders who keep us safe on the home front.  Thank the families and loved ones who serve too, and who become the care givers to our heroes who return home with moral and physical injuries that often require a lifetime of healing.   

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1 & 2…

The Tragic Loss of Little London McCabe is a Shocking Reminder…We must do more to help children and families in crisis!

LondonMcCabe

6 year old London McCabe loved hats and his Dad.. Playing with his toy giraffe last November was a joy…

jillian-mccabe-1

Jillian McCabe calmly threw her young son, London, over the Yaquina Bridge to his tragic death…Newport, Oregon…

 Community Morns Little London McCabe’s Tragic Death… Quote from this website news report from the Newport News Times…

Blogs highlighted McCabe family struggles

Modified: Wednesday, Nov 5th, 2014


“NEWPORT — In the year leading up to the death of a 6-year-old Newport boy, allegedly thrown from Yaquina Bay Bridge by his own mother, online sites documented a family plagued by hardships, trying to make it by.

Little London McCabe was autistic, and his father, Matt McCabe, in therapy for multiple sclerosis (MS).”

#####

Our local community and the world, according to news reports around the globe, are shocked by the tragic loss of a beautiful 6 year old boy (pictured above), London McCabe, who was loved and adored by his family.  This especially hit home at Neighbors for Kids in Depoe Bay, Oregon where we take great care and discipline to make a difference for children and families in an effort to prevent this kind of tragedy.  We practice vigilance as a high priority and devote additional time to our kids with special needs, including working with parents so that while children are in our care they receive extra love and attention. All the schools and numerous other public and private agencies strive to provide the best support for children and families, who are challenged and stressed each and every day with overwhelming problems with economic survival and special needs, including mental health issues.One of the more recent programs offered to help improve community response to mental health challenges is Mental Health First Aid…  Click on the highlighted text and learn more…  Following is a quote from this website.

“Mental Health First Aid is an 8-hour course that teaches you how to help someone who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. The training helps you identify, understand, and respond to signs of addictions and mental illnesses.”

The McCabe family is a tragic example of what can go wrong, really wrong, if we miss a step in care giving, even for a second.  A family tragedy like this can happen in any community anywhere in the world at any moment, even when we all work hard to prevent such a terrible outcome.  This is a shocking reminder that we must do more…be more vigilant as an extended community family of educators, care givers, mental health professionals, local government, and volunteers, especially working more closely with parents.  There will always be a risk that a tragedy will happen.  But when it does, we should talk to ourselves and each other, review and change best practices, and make efforts to prevent a tragedy like this from ever happening again.  As a community, we know how to do this.   We need to do it better!

Steve Sparks, Vice Chair, www.neighborsforkids.org

Graduating from St. Mary’s College of California in 1989…a most proud moment in my life!

St Marys

StMarys

St. Mary’s College of California…  Quote from this website…

“A Saint Mary’s education inspires learning that lasts a lifetime. It engages the intellect and spirit, and awakens the desire to transform society. We are all learners here — working together to understand and shape the world.”

#####

Driving through the Bay Area yesterday on our way home to the Oregon Coast opened a treasure trove of memories…a slideshow of countless blessings, including graduating from St. Mary’s College in 1989, earning a BA in Management.  Finally completing my college education after over 20 years of study at multiple colleges and universities was a surreal experience.  I dreamed of going to college as a young adult.  My dream became stronger and stronger over the years during the prime of my career in the telecommunications industry during the 70’s and 80’s, especially while working for Nortel Networks in San Ramon, California.  I have Nortel to thank for allowing me the time and providing the funding to complete my education.  To this day, my heartfelt gratitude to Nortel Networks. especially old friends and colleagues, inspires me each and every day…

It was not easy going to college while working and raising a family for so many years.  Many disruptions, challenges, and obstacles along the way almost made the dream of graduating from college impossible, so it seemed at times…  But with the support of so many friends, colleagues, and loved ones, my dream was realized in 1989.  I still look each day at the  college degree on the wall of my office, and count the blessings in my life, including the appreciation of the challenges we all face in achieving our dreams.   It was “no picnic at the beach” at times, but none the less my life has been a wild and beautiful ride…  I have been so fortunate to have many friends, mentors, and loved ones, especially my wife, Judy, who gave me the courage and inspiration to keep going and make dreams come true.  Now in retirement and still dreaming of things to come, it is a love for life and community service that continues to push me to new beginnings…  I am most thankful on this day, and looking forward to getting back home to Depoe Bay, Oregon…a paradise on earth indeed…

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1…  Click the highlighted text for my author page…