Monthly Archives: January 2015

“Little Lucky Girl…” A beautiful heartwarming animated film to heal your soul…

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Cathy Reinking…”Currently working on what I’m calling a ” Multi-Media eBook” about the Holocaust and it’s legacy, told from the perspective of the 2nd generation. Soon, there won’t even be enough of US to share the stories and the painful aftermath.”

 

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Where creativity, practicality, and inspiration merge; curated & written by Cathy Reinking

 

Little Lucky Girl…  Click on this heartwarming animated video clip from 

“Little Lucky Girl (formerly Heart Broken Heart Found) is a multi-media ebook, a tapestry of short videos, home movies, documentary footage, photos, interwoven with the written word. It covers several hundred years of history, all told through the eyes of an American teen growing up in the ’70s, with flash forwards to her adult self.”

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Finding your broken heart is the beginning of a healing journey that can last a lifetime…  Peace of mind can come to those of us who have suffered from traumatic life events.  Cathy Reinking revisits her painful past and finds solace through creative arts…  Fill your day with joy and healing by viewing Little Lucky Girl…

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

“American Sniper” shows the painful effects of PTSD on the children and families of warriors…

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American Sniper…a portrait of PTSD’s Affect on the children and families of warriors…

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Reconciliation: A Son’s Story by Steve Sparks…a post WWII story of my family’s challenges and resilience in conquering the emotional torment of PTSD.

 

 

American Sniper, Portrait of PTSD… by the Dallas Morning News…by Chris Vognar

@chrisvognar

see video clip review of movie…

“Eastwood, Hall and especially Cooper walk the line between Kyle’s valor and his torment. The movie is strongest when Kyle is home, as his wife, Taya (Sienna Miller, also strong), wonders whether the man who was her husband might re-enter the land of the living. Cooper turns Kyle’s emotional vacancy into a vivid presence. He wears it in the hollow eyes, and the clenched jaw, and the monosyllabic shutdown when anyone expresses concern.”

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Since the publication of my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story, in November 2011, I have had fair success in educating the adult children and families of warriors on the emotional pain of PTSD and its intergenerational impact.  Now, the motion picture, American Sniper, the story of Chris Kyle, is generating more awareness, interest, and conversation than any past book, movie, documentary or story.  I say bravo! The stigma of mental health challenges, including moral injury and the symptoms of PTSD, is a global epidemic that often sticks with a family for generations with little or no treatment.

The worst of PTSD is the direct exposure to loss of life and in the act of killing another human being.  Worse yet is how PTSD affects the children and families of warriors for a lifetime.  The emotional pain of PTSD is considered a moral injury or a complete breakdown of spirituality…right vs. wrong in our human nature.  If we are in denial or disguise the emotional turmoil and don’t try to seek alternative treatments available, the worst case outcome can be suicide…loss of hope and desire to live.  Loved ones, children, and families who live with a parent or friend suffering from severe symptoms of PTSD often take on the same symptoms that carry forward like bad genes unless treated again…often a lifetime work in progress.

We can break the cycle of pain caused by moral injury and PTSD with honest conversation and treatment.  Revisiting the pain of the past either as a warrior or as a trauma victim in general has a way of releasing the stress that haunts a person’s mind and body.  The 24/7 pain of PTSD is taking a toll on thousands of combat veterans and millions of Americans who experience traumatic events from domestic violence, child abuse, and maltreatment.  Seeing this movie and starting a conversation with friends and family will be the beginning of your own journey of healing…

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

Mental Health…We can do more in rural communities!

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League of Oregon Cities…Local Focus, December 2014

 

“Mental Health…Can’t we do better?”  League of Oregon Cities, Local Focus December 2014…Quote from page 14, It’s Time to Bend the Trend by Cherryl Ramirez

Contrary to those with other chronic conditions like diabetes
and heart disease, people with chronic mental health and substance
use disorders have been criminalized. The difference is,
in part, that people with untreated mental illness may act in
ways that seem frightening or threatening to the general public.
According to the National GAINS Technical Assistance
and Policy Analysis (TAPA) Center for jail diversion, “when
effective treatment is available, people with mental disorders
and without substance use problems present no greater risk to
the community than people in the general population.”

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This is my first posting as a newly elected Depoe Bay, Oregon, City Councilor.  It is fitting and timely to use the League of Oregon Cities Local Focus publication, entitled Mental Health, Can’t we do better?  as a reference.

I attended my first workshop in Manzanita, Oregon, this last week to receive training as a newly elected official.  The training was very valuable as I hit the ground running.  A big picture view of Oregon legislative priorities for 2015 was presented to help focus on the larger issues of our great State of Oregon, including mental health.

As a new Depoe Bay, Oregon City Councilor with a personal interest in mental health awareness. I am putting a special focus on this important topic during my term in office.  Following are some of the actions we are taking in Oregon and in local communities like Depoe Bay to do more in providing improved mental health services.

Quote from page 29 of the referenced LOC Local Focus…
 • Preventative mental health care in the form of “drop-in”
services should be available to all Oregonians regardless
of where they live.
The League believes that access to urgent care for mental
health will allow those suffering from an illness or condition
to be triaged and receive immediate treatment or
where appropriate, referrals for treatment. This will avert
unnecessary, unhealthful and sometimes tragic interactions
with law enforcement personnel.
• Proactive, mobile crisis intervention should be available
statewide.
The mobile crisis intervention approach has reduced
negative encounters between police and the mentally ill.
Resources should be provided so such services are available
throughout the state.
• Every police officer in the state of Oregon should have
access to training in how to respond to a mental health
crisis.
The state should provide public safety personnel with access
to instructions from mental health professionals that
would equip officers with skills to respond in a way that
de-escalates conflict and helps the affected individual and
their family receive appropriate care.
• The number of regional residential mental health facilities
should be expanded.
Jail should not be the only option to secure an individual
experiencing a mental health crisis. Safe and secure mental
health care beds will allow those in need to avoid jail,
which could worsen their condition.

It is an honor for me to serve the citizens of greater Depoe Bay, Oregon for the next 4 years.  As a rural community we have many challenges in community building and in sustaining the precious legacy of our town.  We are also focused on economic development and providing state of the art infrastructure utilities and services. 

In addition to my regular blog postings on the topic of Children and Families in Life After Trauma, I will be providing updates on more global mental health issues related to rural communities.  I am grateful for the support of my community of friends, followers, and family who read this blog.  Please share your comments at the end of this posting.

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…

 

 

The Military Family…The Invisible Pain of War on the Home Front…

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“Thank you for your service.” You’ve probably said that to our troops. Here’s your chance to thank their families. Post a tribute to a military family member and share that story of love and sacrifice with the world.”

 

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“With her husband away at war, Liz Snell has been a single mother for much of her marriage. Her youngest daughter Briannah is 10 now, and the family is together at Camp Pendleton.

 

 

The Uncounted Casualties of War…  Quote from this website…a special report by CNN…video clips of interviews with military spouses and family members.

“Liz Snell wasn’t the type to step out ahead of her Marine. A good military wife, she believed, fell in line and worked quietly in the background. That’s why her volunteer resumé ran three pages long: She was a caseworker for families who needed financial advice. She coordinated job workshops for spouses who had to find new employment every time their warriors changed bases. She helped lead a volunteer program with the armed services branch of the Red Cross.

Liz’s medals were tokens of gratitude, small ways of recognizing that she served her country, too — reminders that America’s longest-running wars required military spouses to be strong and brave.”

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The emotional pain of trauma survivors reaches outward and can affect the mental health of the children and families of warriors for a lifetime, including uncounted suicides of spouses, children, and loved ones.  Military families are under great stress while soldiers and sailors are deployed for long periods of time.  The same families become the care givers of our heroes when they come home…often for a lifetime.  Family members who live with trauma survivors of war often become secondary victims of trauma, suffering from the same symptoms of PTSD and moral injury of combat veterans returning home.

My post WWII and Korean War US Navy family along with thousands of other military families were no exception.  The difference during my time is that we were completely unaware of the symptoms of anxiety, depression, and panic attacks that created an angry and toxic family culture.  Even though we learned about PTSD shortly after the end of the Vietnam War, and have since discovered appropriate alternative treatment strategies, America does not have the resources to help the affected military family as a whole.  There is also a great deal of stigma attached to mental health treatment for fear of compromising employment opportunities. 

Last May/June 2014, while visiting the American Military Family Museum, I spoke to an audience of mental health professionals at the Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center in Albuquerque, NM.  Following my talk about how families struggle as caregivers of warriors and often take on the same symptoms of PTSD, the clinical staff expressed a deep and emotional concern that they are unable to treat the whole family.  I was told that they can barely treat the high numbers of combat veterans returning home and older veterans, let alone the whole family.  In my view as a former military child growing up in the 1950’s and early 1960’s, that our lack of awareness and caregiving experience as a family, made matters at home exponentially worse.  Living and growing up in an angry and toxic home culture is tragic.  In the worst case scenario as in my case, our family was destroyed.  Just as soon as we reached legal age, we escaped a home that was like living in a prison camp.  We took all the anger and hate with us as adults.

In confronting my own demons from a toxic childhood, I researched, wrote, and published Reconciliation: A Son’s Story in November, 2011.   My goal in revisiting the past was to first forgive myself so that forgiveness would fill my life with new found love and hope for the future.  I found peace of mind.  I wanted to help my own family heal as well.

My high level of awareness and continued writing and work with children and families in life after trauma gives me the fuel to maintain a sense of peace with the past, and hopefully help others find their own path of healing.  The CNN reference article, The Uncounted, in my blog post today is one of the most revealing and powerful testimonials showing how war damages the hearts and souls of military families…  The most critical outcome and benefit of sharing these stories of trauma survival is to help mitigate the stigma connected with mental health treatment for the family as a whole.  Do not allow denial to keep the pain of trauma bottled up inside of you and your family.  Encouraging early treatment with a sense of urgency to save the lives of trauma victims offers the most hope for long term recovery and healing.

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… 

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My US Navy Military Mom, Marcella C. Sparks, Age 96…”She served too” with pride and honor…

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Children affected by a traumatic or tragic event(s) need treatment sooner rather than later!

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Piper (top left) and Sailor (bottom left) with parents Kim and Marty Gutzler. All but Sailor, 7, died in a plane crash that also claimed family member Sierra Wilder (not pictured).

7 year old survives plane crash…a miracle!  Click on this Good Morning America news video!

“A 7-year-old girl who survived a plane crash and then trekked nearly a mile through dense woods to get help held out hope that her parents, sister and cousin might somehow have survived, too, police said.”

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How do lone survivors of traumatic events or accidents cope?  Quote from this website article… By Kathryn Westcott 
BBC News

Survivors Guilt… Click on this link for more…

 

“I still I think about it a lot, particularly, of course, when there is an air crash,” she said. “But at other times as well. That experience follows me where ever I go.”

Many who survive such disasters – particularly sole survivors – suffer from what is known as “survivors’ guilt”.

One aspect of this is feeling somewhat unworthy of survival. Then there is the feeling of isolation, as there is no survivors’ network in which experiences can be shared and bonds formed.

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Traumatic events in the lives of children, including accidents where others are killed, domestic violence or child abuse, are sometimes ignored because of an incorrect assumption that kids are resilient or will not remember.  The traumatic time in my life as a child was the 1950’s during the period of my father’s post WWII and Korean War challenges of coping with his own trauma from the war, including the loss of close battle buddies.  Our entire family was affected during a time when there was little or no awareness or treatment of PTSD symptoms and moral injury on children and families of warriors.

Trauma survivors feel a sense of guilt or unworthiness that can last a lifetime if not treated or confronted.  Denial can take hold over time and become a huge barrier in finding an appropriate path of healing to achieve peace of mind.  This was exactly the case with me until later in life following research and writing my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  It is also true that young children can experience memory loss over time, making treatment and reconciliation even more challenging.  I can’t remember my life experience or the traumatic events in our toxic home until around 9 or 10 years old.  Fortunately, confronting my memories and the emotional baggage carried forward for decades from age 10 allowed me to begin healing from the pain that for so long was bottled up inside of me.

The big lesson for all parents or guardians when children are affected by traumatic life events such as the little girl, Sailor, who survived the plane crash in the story above, is to start treatment right away.  Kids need to go back and retrace the events surrounding the tragedy so they can deal with the trauma effectively right away rather than waiting.  The pain of bottled up tragic memories can often stick around forever.  Even lost painful memories as a child are still tucked away in the back of our brain waiting to escape and be the catalyst of long term healing.  It is the spiritual human connectedness and mindfulness of releasing the pain of trauma and tragedy from our hearts and minds that heals.  Sharing with trauma survivors and bonding with others are good strategies to achieve a lasting peace of mind…

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…

Prayers for healing and peace of mind often come from the love of man’s best friend…

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Click this heartwarming video clip…highlighted text…“My kids grew up afraid of me!”

Dog Wish…Transforming Lives!  Quote from this website article…

“A Dog Wish Service Dog is specifically trained to produce resolution and relief for someone diagnosed with Anxiety disorders and disabilities.Psychologists and Therapists are great at helping us to understand why we feel and experience these horrific things, but when it comes to resolution they either resort to pharmaceutical drugs or prolonged therapies that are only partially successful.”

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One of the most important awareness factors discovered during my own journey of healing in life after trauma, is alternative treatment strategies…  The major benefit is these treatments are all natural, pick your passion and motivation.  These many treatment approaches offer long term healing and peace of mind without the use of self medications like alcohol or prescription drugs.  We have learned overtime that although chemical treatments may provide near term relief for the very sick…sustainable treatment comes with a mindfulness approach…  Adopting a trained service dog is one of the best examples of a mindful act of compassion and human connectedness with an animal that has far reaching healing benefits.  We often agree that unconditional love from your pet companion is the secret to receiving the optimum results in healing from a traumatic life experience or event.

For my PTSD treatment needs and success so far, writing and publishing my book in 2011 and starting this blog have provided a work in progress strategy that gives me peace of mind never before achieved during most of my adult life.  I was interviewed some months ago on Debbie Sprague’s (click highlighted text) Family of a Vet radio program about the healing power of writing with a passion.  My interview with Debbie is well worth a listen.  Debbie Sprague is very good at bringing out the best with her natural style of interviewing.  Also click on Family of a Vet website for more information on PTSD healing treatments and stories from trauma survivors.

It would be great to hear from my friends and followers on your own experiences in finding successful alternative treatment strategies in life after trauma.  Be calm, be well, and practice living in the moment…

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