CNN Special…”American Sniper Shines a Light on PTSD.” Helping soldiers and sailors transition when they come home…

American Sniper” Shines a Light on PTSD… Click the highlighted text for this video clip.


Shining a light on PTSD… A CNN Special Report… Click on this revealing and informative video clip!

“A greater sense of being” must be rediscovered and renewed among those who suffer from traumatic events in life, including war.  The children and families who become exposed to the painful symptoms of PTSD when war weary soldiers and sailors come home, become affected caregivers too.  Life after trauma can become a vicious cycle of emotional pain and baggage that often carries forward to the next generation of family members and loved ones…

I was very fortunate in 2011 to have been inspired to research and write my own family’s post WWII story of living with the toxic circumstances of life after war.  My story certainly shows severe emotional pain, including domestic violence, but also demonstrates the resilience of an American military family to survive and thrive without understanding the roots of our troubled existence.  Our family, like thousands of military families of that time and in the 21st Century, was torn apart by war.  But we all took the high road and thrived, even with mental health challenges that were mostly confronted and mitigated along a lifetime journey of healing.  We succeeded in breaking the cycle of pain so that future generations could more freely make informed choices to seek alternative treatments to heal in life after trauma.

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to contribute to the campaign of awareness through my books, blog, and in public speaking.  Discovering a greater sense of being in my life is a gift of mindfulness and a soul at peace.  Without knowing the roots of ones traumatic past, the pain of bottled up horrific memories can be haunting for a lifetime.  My favorite quote by Maya Angelou…”There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you…”

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

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


Capturing Iwo Jima 70 Years Ago…Honoring the brave sailors of the USS Belle Grove LSD2…

USS Belle Grove (LSD-2) at anchor, probably at Leyte, circa 20 to 22 October 1944. Photo by J.L. Brown.
USS Belle Grove (LSD-2) undergoing sea trials in San Francisco Bay, 16 August 1943. US Navy photo from “Allied Landing Craft of World War Two”, published by Arms and Armour Press.
Scan_Pic0005 2
War Cruise of the USS Belle Grove LSD2…click photo to expand view…
Dad Photo and Awards
Vernon H. Sparks, BMC, USS Belle Grove LSD2 WWII Pacific…click photo for larger view…

USS Belle Grove…7 Campaigns WWII South Pacific…
Ashland Class Dock Landing Ship:

  • Originally authorized as (APM-2), a Mechanized Artillery Transport
  • Reclassified Landing Ship Dock (LSD-2), 1 July1941
  • Laid down, 27 October 1942, at Moore Drydock Co. Oakland, CA.
  • Launched, 17 February 1943
  • Commissioned USS Belle Grove (LSD-2), 9 August 1943, LCDR. Morris Seavey, USNR, in command
  • During World War II USS Belle Grove was assigned to the Asiatic-Pacific Theater and participated in the following campaigns:

    World War II Campaigns
    Campaign and Dates Campaign and Dates
    Gilbert Islands operation
    Makin Island, 20 November to 2 December 1943
    Leyte operation
    Leyte Gulf landings, 20 October, 31 October to 9 November and 13 to 21 November 1944
    Marshall Islands operation
    Occupation of Kwajalein and Majuro Atolls, 31 January to 8 February 1944
    Luzon operation
    Lingayen Gulf landings – Abuyo and San Pedro Bay, 9 to 16 January 1945
    Marianas operation
    Capture and occupation of Saipan, 15 to 28 July 1944
    Iwo Jima operation
    Assault and capture of Iwo Jima, 19 February to 16 March 1945
    Tinian capture and occupation, 21 to 28 July 1944


    Until researching and writing my book in 2011, I did not know of my father’s WWII service in the Pacific. He did tell humorous stories of liberty from combat duty but never about the horror of war. The USS Belle Grove LSD2 spent 25 months at sea in 7 campaigns before going to Shanghai, China, for its first “liberty” giving the brave and exhausted sailors, including my father, a break from combat duty. My father finally returned home from WWII in June of 1945.

    It is an honor to now acknowledge and remember the 7 Pacific War Campaigns of the USS Belle Grove LSD2 on this 70th Anniversary of the capture of Iwo Jima… It is so often the case that we post WWII military family members and loved ones did not learn details of the brave service of our fathers until much later in life. It is never too late or too often to honor the veterans of all wars…

    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…

    Reconciliation: A Son’s Story by Steve Sparks 2011…The USS Belle Grove LSD2 story included…

Kennedy Forum Mental Health “Call to Action!” “Equity in Mental Health Care.”

Feb 09, 2015 by The Kennedy Forum On Tuesday, February 3, Patrick J. Kennedy and Dr. David Satcher announced the formation of the Kennedy Center for Mental Health Policy and Research, released new polling data on how Americans see the issue today, and issued a call to action. Learn more…


Kennedy Forum Mental Health “Call to Action” Webcast…  click on this attention getting video clip for an update on this most important initiative!

The Center will focus attention on a few key areas, including:

  • Quality, with a focus on provider accountability, outcomes, and the need to set clear and achievable standards that all providers can adopt and use.

  • Innovation, with a focus on cutting-edge technology, ongoing research, and leveraging the promise of big data.

  • Equity, with a redoubling of efforts to end disparities, fully implement parity, and support justice system reforms.

  • Integration, with an emphasis on caring for the whole person, and ensuring that all Americans can get a “checkup from the neck up.”

The announcement of the Center comes as 71% of Americans are calling for “significant “ or “radical” changes in the way mental health and addiction are treated. In addition, a majority of survey respondents highlighted two key areas of focus for reform: “Improving quality of care for people with mental health conditions” and “making sure people with mental health conditions have access to the care they need regardless of where they live, their ethnicity, or their background.”


I am happy to share that we have our own “call to action” in the State of Oregon with the key legislative initiative, (click on this highlighted link) “Mental Health: Can’t we do better?”  At my local level, the Depoe Bay, Oregon City Council included mental health as a new business item in the agenda on February 3rd, which included input from the community and highly supportive discussion by the council.  As city councilor, I have been tasked to follow through with a grass roots local work group to start the conversation and begin developing ideas and solutions to improve access to mental health first aid and overall care.

Our first “grass roots” local work group meeting is scheduled for Monday February 16, 2014.  I am planning to keep the community posted on our progress in working with local, county, and state resources in meeting mental health care goals and spirit of a national “call to action.”  Teamwork and community collaboration are key to our success!

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…

As a post WWII military child, and US Navy veteran, how did the movie American Sniper connect with my soul?

Honoring Chris Kyle, US Navy Seal
The blockbuster movie, American Sniper!


American Sniper…The Chris Kyle Story… Click the highlighted text for more…

Christopher Scott “Chris” Kyle (April 8, 1974 – February 2, 2013) was a United States Navy SEAL and the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history with 160 confirmed kills. Kyle served four tours in the Iraq War and was awarded several commendations for acts of heroism and meritorious service in combat. He received two Silver Star Medals, five Bronze Star Medals, one Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, and two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals.[7] Iraqi insurgents dubbed him the “Devil of Ramadi” and placed a series of ever increasing bounties on his head, purported to have eventually reached the low six figures.

Kyle was honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy in 2009 and wrote a bestselling autobiography, American Sniper, which was published in January 2012. On February 2, 2013, Kyle was shot and killed at a shooting range near Chalk Mountain, Texas, along with friend Chad Littlefield. The man accused of killing them is awaiting trial for murder. A film adaptation of Kyle’s autobiography, directed by Clint Eastwood, was released in December 2014.


It has taken me days to think about my reaction to the movie, American Sniper.   It was an honor but chilling experience watching the movie.  The story affected me most as a post WWII and Korean War military child living with a parent who suffered terribly from the trauma of extended deployments in hard combat.  I thought mostly of the tens of thousands of military children and families of all wars, past and present, who endured the emotional challenges of war at home during and after the wars of their generations.  I think about my mom, now age 96, who waited all of WWII for Dad to return not knowing where he was or whether he would even return to know his first son born 3 months before Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

I feel thankful that Americans are highly aware of the painful symptoms of PTSD and the lifelong and intergenerational affect of this epidemic on the children and families of warriors.  When the movie ended there was complete silence in the theater while we watched the memorial service for Chris Kyle at Cowboy Stadium.  I feel so encouraged that the stigma of mental illness and PTSD will become a thing of the past.   I believe America will be much further ahead in caring for the sailors and soldiers, including the whole family, when they return home from fighting the wars that protect the freedoms of all Americans.  When early treatment for PTSD is encouraged and supported, trauma survivors can embark on the journey of healing.

My only regret is that as a post WWII family we had no awareness or appreciation of how the trauma of war affected Dad and our family as a whole.  We ended up as one of thousands of families who were torn apart by war, and carried the emotional baggage forward in life for more than one generation.  If we had the awareness of 21st Century medical science following WWII, my family’s toxic past and emotional pain may have been avoided or at least mitigated.  We are also lucky in this day and age for the media technology and access that provides a profound sense of awareness, including the motion picture American Sniper.  I am grateful to have had the opportunity to be part of the PTSD awareness campaign by publishing my own book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story…  I feel even more thankful and proud to now know the roots of my family’s struggles following WWII, allowing me to honor my father’s memory and US Navy legacy.  It is in this spirit that we can never forget the sacrifice of veterans of all wars and the families who served too…

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…

Reconciliation: A Son’s Story by Steve Sparks, November 2011… The resilience of a post WWII and Korean War US Navy military family… click book cover for larger view of my father Vernon & mother Marcella c1940.



Remember the Children of Warriors…some hardly see or know their parents, and some lose them early in life…

Young children are affected deeply by the absence of parents who serve…


Will James’ Dad…


Daddy’s Boots…a moving poem for children of warriors…by CJ Heck… The poem is quoted…

Daddy’s Boots
by CJ Heck
Daddy left his boots for me
and here I have to stay.
My daddy is a soldier.
I’m in charge while he’s away.
In Daddy’s boots, I can pretend
that now I am the man
who does the things that Daddy does
as only Daddy can.
I help with little brother,
I help with folding clothes,
I help to take the trash out,
and I hope Daddy knows
that every day I wear his boots
so I’ll feel close to him
and I try to keep Mom happy,
till he comes home again.
I know that he’s protecting us,
that’s what soldiers do,
but his boots are way too big for me
and my job, being him, is too.
I wonder when he’s coming home.
I miss him ALL the time.
Mom said Dad is proud of me
and his boots fit me … just fine.
Dad, a US Navy WWII and Korean War combat veteran, was a stranger in our home for most of our lives as kids.  My oldest brother really didn’t get to know his Dad until WWII ended, and that never turned out so well.  For the rest of us born following WWII, it didn’t turn out well either.  But we all had one thing in common, we loved Dad because he was our hero and America’s hero.  Dad, like thousands of military men and women with families protected our freedoms so we could live our dreams and life challenges as well.  We served too!  I am proud to share my military family legacy and equally proud to preserve the memory my father’s selfless and brave service to America…
Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1…  Please click on the highlighted text for my author page…
Purchase this book by CJ Heck on this site at the side bar…

State of the Union in Mental Health and Addiction Live Webcast…and local initiatives…

The State of Mental Health in America Webcast…  Click highlighted text…

Kennedy Forum…State of the Union in Mental Health & Addiction…  Click on the highlighted text

“Just as President Kennedy rallied the nation to dream big and set audacious goals 50 years ago, The Kennedy Forum seeks to set a new standard for the future of health care in the United States.

Our mission is big, and the stakes are clear. We seek to unite the health care system, and rally the mental health community around a common set of principles: Fully implement the 2008 parity law, bring business leaders and government agencies together to eliminate issues of stigma, work with providers to guarantee equal access to care, ensure that policymakers have the tools they need to craft better policy, and give consumers a way to understand their rights.”



Mental Health is one of the State of Oregon’s key legislative initiatives for 2015.  League of Oregon Cities Local Focus (click this site) magazine for December 2014 is dedicated to mental health…”can’t we do better?” On the agenda for our City of Depoe Bay Council Meeting on February 3rd is Mental Health…to start this important conversation in our rural community on the Central Oregon Coast.  Communities everywhere are getting on the same page now and taking action…to find better ways to meet mental health challenges and improve services at the local level.  Following is a summary of the key issues we are addressing in our communities…

December 2014On the Cover…Mental Health: Can’t we do better?

  • It’s Time to Bend the Trend
  • Forest Grove – Mental Health Crisis Straining Police Resources
  • Wallowa County – Isolation Impedes Proper Response, Care
  • Portland and Project Respond: A 22-Year Partnership
  • Boardman – Crisis Care in a Small Community
  • Bend – Trying to Keep Pace in Deschutes County
  • Jail Diversion: Better for Cities, Better for Counties, Better for Patients
  • Mental Health Services: How We Can Do More

Please take the time to catch up on the State of Mental Health in America from the Kennedy Forum webcast.  Take a look at the Local Focus December 2014 magazine and learn more about specific challenges and opportunities for change in Oregon.  I will be reporting on the progress we are making in Depoe Bay, Oregon going forward.

Mental Health will be a high priority for me as city councilor during my 4 year term.  Our community will begin to seriously assess its needs and begin to collaborate with public private partnerships along with federal, state, and country resources to build a stronger foundation for mental health crisis treatment and referral services.  Join your neighbors in supporting a stronger Mental Health agenda for your community.  We can do better!

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