Monthly Archives: May 2015

We can thank the US Army and WWII troops trained at Camp Abbot, and John D. Gray for Sunriver Resort!

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Camp Abbot sign at Sunriver.  Click for larger view…

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Interior of the Great Hall (former Camp Abbot Officer’s Club) Click for larger view…

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John D. Gray… Click for article in the Oregonian…

“From his family, to guests at the resorts he created, to the beneficiaries of his philanthropy, Portland developer John D. Gray wanted Oregonians to enjoy what the state and region have to offer.  During World War II, he served in the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, earning the rank of lieutenant colonel and a Bronze Star Medal.”

  Camp Abbot, WWII…

“Military officials established Camp Abbot, about 11 miles south of Bend, to serve as an Engineer Replacement Training Center (ERTC) in 1943, with soldiers first arriving for training in March. As many as 10,000 men could train at a time at the camp, with 90,000 men trained over its 14 months of operation. The typical 17-week combat engineering training cycle included three phases. The first focused on hand grenades and anti-tank grenades; defense against air, mechanized, and chemical attack; and rifle marksmanship. The second phase concentrated on demolition training to blast bridges and other structures. The final phase consisted of three weeks of field maneuvers carried out under combat zone conditions.”

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On the 70th Anniversary, End of WWII, we can honor and remember the troops who trained as combat engineers at Camp Abbot.  The US Army built the initial infrastructure to help create this gorgeous area next to the Deschutes River what we know today as Sunriver…  US Army Corps of Engineers learned how to build bridges and destroy enemy bridges.  They also learned how to defend themselves as a special forces team under combat zone conditions.

Camp Abbot protected our freedoms during WWII and built the foundation for the citizens of Oregon to enjoy this beautiful area following the end of the war.  John D. Gray, a famous developer and WWII veteran from Portland, Oregon purchased the property in 1967.  Mr. Gray also developed Salishan near our home in Depoe Bay, Oregon.

By Elliot Njus | The Oregonian/OregonLive The Oregonian “You can be excused for not recognizing the name: Gray, who died at 93, had faded in recent years from the news, and his death was initially treated in a way that understated his enormous contributions in shaping the modern identity of this state and in guiding and supporting many of its leading institutions.

There is so much to learn about the history of the State of Oregon.  Everywhere we go, we learn something new and connect the dots often to the “Greatest Generation” of men & women who served America during WWII.  We can never honor veterans of all wars enough…  But we can take note of the of critical institutions and foundations that have helped protect our freedoms and built America as the strongest and most prosperous nation in the world.  Camp Abbot and John Gray paved the way for the gift and joy of Sunriver, Oregon.

Judy and I are headed out to float in a Kayak down the Deschutes River on this perfect day in May…  We are so thankful for the dedication and passion of so many who came before us… It is a blessing to be an American citizen…

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Deschutes River, Oregon

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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Memorial Day 2016…The Children & Families of America’s Armed Forces…

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“Saving your children, family and loved ones from intergenerational Post Trauma Stress (PTS)…”

“Let’s raise children who won’t have to recover from their childhoods.” ~Pam Leo

Following is an excerpt from my new book released for the 70th Anniversary of the End of WWII…

Chapters

  1. The Wrath of Stigma
  2. Local Community, Partnerships, and Responsibility
  3. Parents, Teachers, and Mentors
  4. Teaching Kids Empathy & Compassion…The dangers of emotional numbness & denial…
  5. How Does Moral Injury Damage Human Spirituality and the Soul?
  6. Museum of the American Military Family…Albuquerque, New Mexico
  7. Romance and Adventure with my Soulmate

 

Introduction

It has been almost 5 years since publishing my first non-fiction book, Reconciliation:  A Son’s Story, November 2011.   My personal path of healing and mitigation of the “chain and ball” of life-long symptoms of anxiety and depression, takes me back to children living and growing up in a toxic home.   The ideal time to save kids from the emotional baggage carried forward as a result of child abuse and maltreatment connected with toxic parenting is from the very beginning.  When parents become abundantly aware of how their parenting behaviors affect children and the detrimental life-long damage of Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS), they often become highly motivated to get help for themselves to save the kids if for nothing else.

Healing is about making a difference for others.  In the case of denial and ignorance on the part of parents who suffer from PTS, outrageous behaviors and angry outbursts, including physical abuse toward family members and loved ones, especially children, is common.  It’s too easy to pick on the loved ones in your life as a way to vent, but it is not always clear how much emotional damage is being done.  If parents knew the consequences of intergenerational PTS by inflicting emotional and physical pain onto children and family members, they would march down to the nearest alternative treatment center immediately and learn how to mitigate the symptoms effectively and begin the journey of healing.  In my experience and view, there would be no hesitation on the part of parents and adults if they had a high level of awareness.  We could eventually break the intergenerational cycle of pain in a couple of decades if we started with our own kids very early.  It is proven that even babies will pick up on toxic circumstances and behaviors and show symptoms of PTS as they become older.

The goal of My Journey of Healing, Part 2 is to specifically help parents with stress triggers to save their kids from becoming emotionally damaged during these critical years from birth to age 18.  Most of the content comes from my own research, resources, references, and experience as a survivor of child abuse and maltreatment.  Since publishing my first book, I have kept up writing consistently on my blog and website www.survivethriveptsd.com.  I will use my blog as the primary reference point since it focuses almost completely on children and families in life after trauma.  I have been writing on this subject for a long time.  It is now the right time to consolidate and integrate all the postings into a single reference book designed as a guide for parents who are survivors of traumatic life events, including hard combat as a warrior, sole survivors of an accident, and victims of assault and rape.  The painful symptoms of PTS can take on a life of their own if not treated effectively.  More importantly, the symptoms will have a consequential secondary effect on loved ones and children in particular.  Parents are solely responsible for protecting their children and will be highly motivated to do so once understanding the terrible consequences of exposing children to a home culture affected by life after trauma.

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.

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Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Child Advocate, and member, Lincoln County Oregon Mental Health Advisory Committee.

 

How to Parent Babies and Toddlers with Post Trauma Symptoms?

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Dakotah, age 4…

Parenting Children with Post Trauma Symptoms…  Quote from this handbook…

Trauma has more severe effects when…

  • It happens again and again.
  • Different stresses add up.
  • It happens to a younger child.
  • The child has fewer social supports(healthy personal relationships). 
  • The child has fewer coping skills (language skills, intelligence, good health, and self-esteem).

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I was reminded this past week of how critical it is to recognize post trauma symptoms of toddlers and young children.  My sister’s grandson, Dakotah, pictured above, was exposed to toxic home circumstances as a baby and removed from the home of his mother.  The young child, now 4 years old, and in the care of foster parents, is showing symptoms of post traumatic stress.  He is not only living with the emotional challenges of experiencing trauma as a baby, but is purportedly living in a toxic and confusing world of figuring out where he should be and who he is…push and pull stresses.  He is consistently in a unhappy and highly emotional state of mind.  Acting out is becoming more frequent as he gets older.

It is often the case with foster children that the financial support connected with caring for the child gets in the way while biological parents and grandparents work toward regaining custody.  The best interests and health of the child can get tied up in the “system” causing delays in returning children to loved ones and family members who later meet the requirements for a loving and nurturing home environment.  My sister, the young boy’s grandmother, has been fighting for several years now to bring the child home while developing a close and loving relationship with her grandson.  The foster parents are apparently under investigation for alleged child abuse and maltreatment.  Consequently, my young great nephew is in the middle of emotional turmoil that can only worsen his post trauma symptoms.

I have profound empathy for the plight of this little boy, my great nephew, and so does my sister, his grandmother; since both of us know well what happens to children later in life when they carry the baggage of child abuse into adult life.  I have tried to provide moral and loving support to my sister during this time with a listening ear.  I wish there was more we could do to rescue this beautiful young boy and return him to his birth family.  These are the heart breaking stories that happen all over America because young children are caught in the middle of dealing with cash flow incentives for foster parents and a system of justice that is overwhelmed with cases of child abuse and maltreatment.

As a reference and example, click on this Los Angeles NBC News video clip to hear the stories of foster kids caught in a system of abuse driven by greed.   A lawsuit is pending surrounding a case against Rancho Cucamonga-based Interim Care Foster Family Agency, which recruited and supervised the foster parents.  This news story has no direct relationship to my nephew referenced above, but does reflect the circumstances of a broken foster care system.

I wish there was some creative way or new idea that could make a difference.  Feedback from my followers and reading audience would be most appreciated.

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life after Trauma, Part 2… Click highlighted text for my author page…

 

Mental Health Awareness Month of May… Take advantage of Mental Health First Aid training in your local community…

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May is Mental Heath Awareness Month…  Quote from this website…

For more than 60 years, May has been nationally recognized as Mental Health Awareness Month.

“Mental wellness is essential for peak cognitive and physical performance and ensures the readiness of our service members. This month the Military Health System (MHS) focuses on the mental wellness of service members, their families, retirees, and DoD civilians. We will highlight the tools and resources available for the prevention and treatment of the DoD community’s overall mental wellness.”

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I am pleased to share that Mental Health First Aid training has arrived in Lincoln County Oregon!  I was happy to take the lead to bring the Mental Health 1st Aid training to our City of Depoe Bay, Oregon with the help of Lincoln County Health & Human Services.  We are scheduling an overview introduction to the Depoe Bay City Council, and to the Neighbors for Kids (NFK) Board of Directors during this month.  Near future training for selected staff in both organizations will be schedule.  Following are a few highlights of the training quoted from the website…

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Mental Health First Aid

is an in-person training that teaches you how to help people developing a mental illness or in a crisis.

Mental Health First Aid teaches you:

  •  Signs of addictions and mental illnesses
  •  5-step action plan to assess a situation and help 
  •  Impact of mental and substance use disorders
  •  Local resources and where to turn for help

The State of Oregon is making mental health a top priority going forward with a campaign  slogan, “Can’t We Do More?”  It is the responsibility of local and county government, private, and public leadership to take advantage of this training.  Lincoln County Mental Health offers the availability of two highly trained staff members to conduct training on a selected basis.  I have written previously in this blog about the need to do more in rural communities for mental health awareness... click on highlighted text for more…

You can make a difference during the month of May and all year by taking a look at the Mental Health First Aid program for your own needs as a business, school or public service organization.  Please review the references and resources available and take action.  Mental Health 1st Aid is just as critical as getting training for first-aid best practices in general.  Lives are saved through a higher level of awareness of all health and wellness challenges in local communities everywhere.

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…

Vice Chair, Neighbors for Kids & Depoe Bay City Councilor

 

 

Celebration of Life for Michael J. Morgan, Command Sgt Major, US Army…

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Judy, Mike, & Lyn…summer fun with old friends…

 

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Mike Morgan

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Michael J. Morgan, US Army, Sgt Major (retired)  Click this link for more…

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Washington State Veterans Cemetery, Medical Lake…Click highlighted text for more…

Washington State Veterans Cemetery, Medical Lake…

The US Army military memorial service for long time friend Mike Morgan was solemn and moving.  Veterans, families and loved ones have a profound kinship, with a love of country, honor, and duty…  It was an honor and privilege for us to share in Mike’s memorial service to celebrate his life as a special friend, and for his 35 years of service to America.  As a US Navy veteran, Steve was able to salute Mike during Taps.  In keeping with Mike and Lyn’s spiritual traditions and beliefs, the Chaplain shared the 23rd Psalm and offered comfort and counsel to those of us saying good bye to one of God’s best.   Mike’s military honor and service to God and Country added to the immortal bond and appreciation we have for veterans of all wars and military families.

Judy’s friendship message…

Mike and Lyn Morgan have been dear friends in our lives since the beginning.  Lyn is like a sister to me; we’ve been friends for more than 35 years.  We were at Mike and Lyn’s wedding in Spokane, Washington, in the mid-80’s.  Lyn and Mike were perfect for each other, and obviously very much in love.  We made it a point to stay in touch and visit with each other most years because it was always a special time together.  We shared love and laughter with them over the years, and always had a great time.

Mike was a real gentleman, always thinking of others, especially his beloved Lynny.  He treated her with love and respect every day.   Mike was intelligent and genuine, just an all around nice person.  We will miss his fun nature and spending more good times together.  More than that, we so appreciate that we were privileged to know Mike and call him our friend.  Thank you, God, for the gift of Mike!

It’s occasions like this that make us ever more mindful to find joy in every day and treasure our times with the ones we love.  Life can change so quickly without warning.  We send love and prayers to our dear friend Lyn, and hope she will be sustained through God’s love and her precious memories of Michael J. Morgan.

With love,

Steve & Judy Sparks

Depoe Bay, Oregon

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Brunswick Community College has partnered with the local school system…Jumpstart!

Kids get a head start for college and jobs… Quote from this website…Click highlighted text for more…

Oregon Coast Community College (OCCC) and Lincoln County School District (LCSD)…click highlighted text for more…

#3: Cooperative Innovative High School Programs (Early College High School)

“Cooperative Innovative High School Programs are located on college campuses, enroll 100 or fewer students per grade level, and provide opportunities for students to complete an associate degree program or earn up to two years of college credit within five years are defined as Cooperative Innovative High School Programs. Eligibility requirements for Cooperative Innovative High School Programs are established jointly by local boards of education and local boards of trustees in accordance with G.S. 115C-238.50.”

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Outcomes…click for larger view…

The Power of After-School Programs…

OUR MISSION: Provide comprehensive after-school programs that keep children safe and help them succeed in school and in life.

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Childrens Aid Society…After-School Programs…

After-School Facts… Click to open this informative fact sheet…

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Neighbors for Kids “Kids Zone” Depoe Bay, Oregon.. Click highlighted text for more…

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I was clearly a disadvantaged kid back in 1963, having grown up in a severely toxic and unstable home culture…  My father was a retired US Navy WWII and Korean War combat veteran who struggled in life after war…and our family did not fair so well either.  I was lucky to have had the opportunity to join the US Navy at age 17 with my father’s blessing.  The US Navy experience turned out to be a life saver for me as a challenged young man who was doing poorly in HS.  My family experience so long ago was not unlike tens of thousands of families in 21st Century America.   Kids from troubled homes and neighborhoods living in distressed areas need an extra edge from local community partnerships that provide early child education, after-school programs, and early college head start opportunities.

We have made significant progress in Lincoln County Oregon but need to do more to strengthen public private partnerships to sustain programs that address the whole child as a community team.  The public school system struggles to keep kids in HS with a disappointing graduation rate.  Stronger partnerships, including investment,  and sustainability of early childhood, after-school and early college HS programs are critical to the future of public and private education.  All of these programs are challenged even with support from the 21st Century Community Learning Center, a federal grant administered by the Lincoln County School District (LCSD); success of local after-school programs similar to Neighbors for Kids, and a promising Oregon Coast Community College (OCCC) system.

Why do we struggle as a community to sustain educational programs so vital to our children and families, especially America as a whole?  In my 10 years living in Depoe Bay, Oregon, serving as a board member for Neighbors for Kids, including extensive community service outreach; and now city councilor, we are still figuring out how to work together as a community with common goals.  The “silo” mentality of going it alone has been a persistent barrier and obstacle difficult to overcome even though progress is apparent.  The trust in each other and a global view of outcomes continues to be a dream yet to be realized because we live in a community culture that lacks innovation, entrepreneurship, and empowerment.  Simply stated we come up short on effective leadership and community building.  Yes, we do have the makings of “kindred spirits” in isolated circumstances, but we have yet to make the leap of faith that makes a difference.  It is easy to cross county boarders and observe 21st Century progress in communities everywhere.  The Salem-Keizer School District is an example, including the Salem-Keizer Education Foundation.  We can do all this creative and innovative stuff in Lincoln County Oregon too!  The good news is we are close to a break-out cultural change.  We just need a good kick in the rear to finish the last mile!

Steve Sparks

Vice Chair, Neighbors for Kids and Depoe Bay City Councilor