Monthly Archives: June 2015

“Schooling with Uncle Sam…We Served Too!” Museum of the American Military Family…

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The above picture was featured in the movie “Brats: Our Journey Home.” It was Christmas, 1941, Ft. Davis, Panama CZ. Pictured from the left to right, Ann, Hudson and Tony Philips. They have just been told that they must leave Panama and their father must stay behind.

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Uncle Sam Schools… Click to expand view.

Schooling with Uncle Sam…  Quote from this website article…Museum of the American Military Family…

“Our evacuation from the Panama Canal was a terribly sad and sudden thing.  As we approached the time that we were to leave, my father’s demeanor changed to a terse and commanding presence. It was time to be soldiers.  When I think back now, it explains why he acted this way. A barrage balloon hovered over the house, tethered not far away.  Piles of sand were placed near our back door to help extinguish fire from incendiary bombs. The entire family was issued gas masks. I was informed of a stash of emergency items in a compartment in the kitchen (in case my parents were out of the house during an attack.)”

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MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN MILITARY FAMILY TO SHOW THE STORY OF SCHOOLS ON U.S. BASES AROUND THE WORLD

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MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN MILITARY FAMILY TO SHOW THE STORY OF SCHOOLS ON U.S. BASES AROUND THE WORLDSpecial Exhibit Opens July 11 in Albuquerque

By Allen Dale Olson

“Less than a third of one of America’s largest school systems is actually in the United States. Its 78,000 K-12 students attend 181 schools, 58 of which are in the States, the rest spread around the world from the Far and Middle East to Western Europe.

Headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, as part of the Defense Department (DoD), it has field offices in Peachtree, Georgia, and in Japan and Germany. The Department of Defense Education Agency (DoDEA) is a civilian educator agency serving the families of American military personnel.

The history, challenges, and achievements of this unique school system will be on display in the Main Reading Room of the Albuquerque Special Collections Library starting July 11 and running through August 22, with an opening ceremony on July 16 at 5:00 p.m.

An exhibit created by the Museum of the American Military Family (MAMF),“Schooling with Uncle Sam” uses quotes, photos, documents, and artifacts gathered from around the world from former students, teachers, administrators, and military personnel and curated by MAMF volunteers with decades of experience in the DoD schools. MAMF is the only museum in the country dedicated exclusively to collecting and preserving the stories of the mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, spouses, and other relatives of uniformed personnel from our nation’s founding to the present.”  Click on the title link above for more on this story…

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The following will be included in the Museum of the American Military Family, “Schooling with Uncle Sam” exhibit.  It is a high honor to make this gift and contribution!  The stories of military children and families are sometimes hard to share, but they are healing to countless sufferers of the nagging effects of inter-generational post traumatic stress (PTS).

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

 “We [often] woke up in the middle of the night to Dad’s nightmares reliving his combat experiences in the South Pacific while serving in the US Navy in WWII.   My parents would fight well into the evening hours making it difficult to go to sleep.  Mom did all she could do to just get through each day.  We siblings became a secondary priority, and were mostly neglected, except we always had food on the table. 

…School was one of the only escapes during the day.  We felt isolated and ashamed like we were always doing something bad or looked stupid to others.  There was little or no encouragement or support at home for our schoolwork because of the challenges of our parents in dealing with their own issues.  We didn’t talk about our experiences at home to other kids for fear of the consequences of our parents finding out. 

   We lied to teachers and coaches when they asked questions concerning our own sad and angry behaviors.  We moved often so were unable to make lasting friendships that made a difference…”

SteveSunriver

Steve Sparks, Author of Reconciliation: A Son’s Story &  City Councilor, Depoe Bay, OR

Museum of the American Military Family… Prologue…My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 2, by Steve Sparks

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Dr. Circe Olson Woessner, ND, Executive Director, is an Army wife of twenty years and mother to an active duty soldier. She taught in the overseas Department of Defense Schools in Europe and the Caribbean and currently works for the federal government. In 2002, she compiled the stories of over 150 University of Maryland, Munich, Germany alumni, resulting in two books documenting the history of that campus’ 40-year history. She has been recognized for her unique education programs in the US and abroad and has been published in Eddiciones Santillana’s Strategies for Teaching English in Puerto Rico. She has been featured in the Army Times and has been quoted in scholarly books about growing up on military bases overseas. Circe belongs to the Blue Star Mothers and co-edits the American Overseas Schools Historical Society (AOSHS) Quarterly newsletter.

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Saving your children, family and loved ones from inter-generational post traumatic stress (PTS)

Prologue

The Museum of the American Military Family and Learning Center (MAMF) is where people with shared and converging paths come together as community, inspiring a sense of place and history.

As a repository for their stories, we shape the future by preserving our heritage, recording its evolution, and inviting dialogue by sharing our experiences with the world.

Because military families often view the same event in history through a different lens than their service member, they provide a different perspective. In order to fully understand the military families’ experience, it’s important to examine history from all angles.

Military families have lots of stories to tell — and their stories should be recorded to be shared with future generations– happy stories–sad stories–and those almost too terrible to tell.

Navy brat and author Steve Sparks joined the MAMF community in 2013, especially to tell his story, which initially sad and bleak becomes one of inspiration.

Intergenerational PTSD is certainly not new, but until recently, little was said about it. Steve hopes that by telling his story, he can offer comfort and hope to others. By breaking the silence and talking about intergenerational PTSD, Steve hopes people can learn more about resources and tools available to them.

Steve has collaborated on several projects with MAMF, each time presenting different aspects of his life as a child growing up in a “toxic” household–because MAMF wants to present a complete picture of military family life, we would be remiss to gloss over the effects PTSD has on the family unit.

Circe Olson Woessner, Executive Director, Museum of the American Military Family & Learning Center

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Release of my new book, My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 2, is planned for mid-July 2015.  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…

Child Abuse, Neglect and Maltreatment on the Rise in Military Families…

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Stressed out Military Families need Support… A child abuse epidemic?  Quote from this website… Click on informative video clip!

“Of the 29,552 cases of child abuse and neglect in active-duty Army families from 2003 through 2012, according to Army Central Registry data, 15,557 were committed by soldiers, the others by civilians — mostly spouses.”

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The above quote from this site and story could have easily come from the 1950’s, post WWII and Korean War.  We didn’t have any awareness growing up as military kids from the boomer generation.  A toxic home life and scary circumstances connected to our family culture persisted without relief until it was time to leave home at age 17 to join the US Navy.  Following are my reflections of home life as a military child…

I have many vivid memories of violence in our home during the 1950’s and early 1960’s.  My father was self medicated and angry most of the time and we never understood any of it…we were just scared all the time.  My mother was stressed out and never understood his outbursts and panic attacks either.  We woke up in the middle of the night to Dad’s nightmares reliving his combat experiences in the South Pacific while serving in the US Navy.   My parents would fight well into the evening hours making it difficult to go to sleep.  Mom did all she could do to just get through each day.  We siblings became a secondary priority and mostly neglected, except we always had food on the table.  The local public school was one of the only escapes during the day.  We felt isolated and ashamed like we were always doing something bad or looked stupid to others.  There was little or no encouragement or support at home for our school work because of the challenges of our parents in dealing with their own issues.  We didn’t talk about our experiences at home to other kids for fear of the consequences of our parents finding out.  We lied to teachers and coaches when they asked questions concerning our own sad and angry behaviors.  We moved often so were unable to make lasting friendships that made a difference.  We were hesitant to bring friends home for fear of unexpected angry outbursts and toxic behaviors in our home.  It was a blessing to spend time at the home of friends and their families where we could see love and kindness, and wished it for our home.

The pattern of child abuse is the same today, but we do have far more awareness and treatment strategies, including criminal action in the worse cases, to mitigate the sad circumstances of a toxic home.  The health of children can be affected for a lifetime from early child abuse and maltreatment.  Awareness is clearly the path to healing for survivors of trauma.  Education is the best solution to help parents become aware of how children are damaged and carry the emotional baggage into adulthood.

A third non-fiction book, My Journey of Healing in Life after Trauma, Part 2, is almost ready to be released.  Following is an excerpt from the book by way of introduction…

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Click for larger view…

Introduction: It has been almost 4 years since publishing my first nonfiction book, Reconciliation:  A Son’s Story, November 2011.   My personal path of healing and mitigation of the “ball and chain” 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 higher 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.  Extensive research has shown babies will pick up on toxic circumstances and behaviors and demonstrate post trauma stress symptoms 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 the compilation of short essays on 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.”

Understanding Child Traumatic Stress from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) is a painful read but highly useful in becoming more aware of how children respond to trauma.  The good news…more often than not child survivors of abuse, maltreatment, and neglect grow up with a high level of compassion, a motivation to succeed, and a desire to make a difference in the world.  This does not take away from the critical need to do all you can to love and care for your children as if your own life is at stake.  I feel blessed about my life at this point, but do envy the families who are free of post traumatic stress in their lives.  I worry most about the children who can suffer for a life-time from growing up in a violent home culture…

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…

 

 

 

Neighbors for Kids “Kids Zone” Summer Camp… Rides Again!

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Kids Zone Summer Camp 2015…click for larger view…

Kids Zone Summer Camp 2015!

To register for Neighbors For Kids’ awesome Summer Camp,

click on the registration link now!

 

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Last summer was Kids Zone’s first crack at offering a full day summer camp, and we were thrilled with the high level of interest by the community, especially the kids who participated.  This year we invested much more time in planning this program, and anticipate a enthusiastic response from Depoe Bay and surrounding Lincoln County areas, including Lincoln City and Newport.

Please join us this summer starting June 22nd for what is expected to be a fabulous “Nine Weeks of Edutainment” for kids, adult volunteers, mentors, and teachers!

Best wishes for a healthy and active summer to all families in Lincoln County, Oregon!

Steve Sparks, Vice Chair, www.neighborsforkids.org

Urban Renewal 101 for Rural Communities… A community building strategy where all citizens can be engaged!

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The old historic Whale Inn on 101…embarrassing blight is not good for community… City of Depoe Bay, Oregon…

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Urban Renewal 101 could address this terrible eye sore for Depoe Bay, Oregon… The Whale Inn on 101 is abandoned…

 

Knowledge is Power… by Dave Morgan, news@bendnewstoday.com

“Urban Renewal is not a trick pony you tie up in front of city hall and put money in some peoples’ pockets as they wink at each other from across the room.  It’s enormously complex in terms of regulations, financial instruments and state and local tax laws.
This is not a toy or a silver bullet to benefit a small group of people – not that any bond counsel, attorney or local banker would ever go along with a scheme to hijack the process.  Urban Renewal has been around for decades – a product of the Federal Model Cities program dating back to the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations.  It’s well travel ground.  Those who would seek to use it as a way to direct monetary or political benefits have no idea – nary a clue – as to what kind of wasp nest they’re whacking.”
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Dave Morgan’s article spells it out in simple terms for me.  The citizens of rural communities who are fortunate to have Urban Renewal resources and boundaries have choices that can make a difference in attracting more visitors and stimulating economic development.  But we have to be highly engaged and take ownership as community partners to make it happen.  I encourage those interested to download the Urban Renewal 101 Starter Kit to become educated.  Next step is to contact your City Hall and Urban Renewal Agency to get involved.
Talking for myself as a Depoe Bay City Councilor, we need to be fully informed, and become experts in Urban Renewal in order to take full advantage of the opportunities for our community to build a competitive 21st Century City.  We have significant resources available but must take ownership ourselves to ensure that funding opportunities are selected appropriately and managed effectively.  Citizens of rural communities must play a huge role.  We need your help and support!
I serve at the pleasure of the citizens of Depoe Bay, Oregon.  Thank you all for your support!
Steve Sparks
City Councilor
Depoe Bay, Oregon
509-670-7766
Please “like” my page…

‘Il Silencio’ (The Silence)… So Powerful So Moving… by Melissa Venema with André Rieu and his orchestra at the ‘Vrijthof’ in Maastricht.

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Mellisa Venema

‘Il Silencio (The Silence) a rendition of TAPS  Click on this beautiful rendition of the original version of TAPS!

This clip will bring tears to your eyes and remind us all of the sacrifices to save freedom and the 70th Anniversary of the End of WWII.  The following quote is provided as another way to remember and honor the veterans of all wars…

 

                                                 Il Silenzio

About six miles from Maastricht, in the Netherlands, lie buried 8,301 American soldiers who died in “Operation Market Garden” in the battles to liberate Holland in the fall/winter of 1944.

Every one of the men buried in the cemetery, as well as those in the Canadian and British military cemeteries, has been adopted by a Dutch family who mind the grave, decorate it, and keep alive the memory of the soldier they have adopted.  It is even the custom to keep a portrait of “their” American soldier in a place of honor in their home.

Annually, on “Liberation Day,” memorial services are held for the men who died to liberate Holland.” The day concludes with a concert.   The final piece is always “ Il Silenzio ,” a memorial piece commissioned by the Dutch and first played in 1965 on the 20th anniversary of Holland’s liberation. It has been the concluding piece of the memorial concert ever since.

This year the soloist was a 13-year-old Dutchgirl, Melissa Venema, backed by André Rieu and his orchestra (the Royal Orchestra of the Netherlands).  This beautiful concert piece is based upon the original version of taps and was composed by Italian composer Nino Rossi.”

Following is a more complete list of WWII American’s buried on European soil.

The American Cemetery at Aisne-Marne, France… A total of 2289

The American Cemetery at Ardennes, Belgium… A total of 5329

The American Cemetery at Brittany, France… A total of 4410

Brookwood, England  – American Cemetery… A total of 468

Cambridge, England… A total of 3812

Epinal, France – American Cemetery… A total of 5525

Flanders Field, Belgium… A total of 368

Florence, Italy… A total of 4402

Henri-Chapelle, Belgium… A total of 7992

Lorraine , France… A total of 10,489

Luxembourg, Luxembourg… A total of 5076

Meuse-Argonne… A total of 14,246

Netherlands, Netherlands... A total of 8301

Normandy, France… A total of 9387

Oise-Aisne, France… A total of 6012

Rhone, France… A total of 861

Sicily, Italy… A total of 7861

Somme, France… A total of 1844

St. Mihiel, France… A total of 4153

Suresnes, France… A total of 1541

Honoring all US Cemetaries in Europe…another moving tribute clip of TAPS…

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…

 

 

 

 

 

Katie’s Way…A safe place of healing and treatment for young adults with mental health challenges…

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The Mathis Family Lost Katie to Depression…

Katie’s Way… Click on the highlighted text, and take a moment to see the powerfully moving video clip…

“Katie’s Way was established in cooperation with The No Stone Unturned Foundation to provide services that promote social-emotional development, prevent development of mental health challenges, and address social-emotional problems that currently exist.”

“Katie’s Way was developed to overcome barriers by providing:

  • A non-institutional setting to overcome the stigmatism associated with an institutional model
  • Team-Based Care – psychiatry and psychology professionals all working together
  • All staff are specialty credentialed in child and adolescent psychiatry/psychology”

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We live in the rural community of Depoe Bay, Oregon in Lincoln County on the Central Oregon Coast.  We are blessed to live out our dreams in this beautiful and stunning coastal community.  We have big challenges just like many rural towns, including the lack of resources to help those who are mentally challenged, especially kids.  The stigma of mental health hits us hard just like everywhere else in America.  Most hesitate or even avoid telling parents and loved ones about feelings of severe depression and anxiety for fear it will not lead to a helpful outcome, or even worse, could keep them from achieving dreams of college, career, and building loving relationships.  We are devastated and traumatized whenever there is word of a death, suicide or accident connected with the need for vastly improved mental health treatment and healing resources.

One of the most recent tragedies in our community is the story of little London McCabe, who’s mother tossed him over the Yaquina Bridge in Newport, Oregon because she was hearing voices.  Other examples we can’t mention names in order to protect victims, include child abuse, sexual abuse and maltreatment.  My own life experience includes a severely toxic and sometimes violent home culture while growing up in the 1950’s and early 1960’s before leaving to join the US Navy in 1963… “I got away!”

The State of Oregon acknowledges the need to improve mental health support and treatment resources by making it a legislative priority.  Our local Depoe Bay, Oregon City Council formally put mental health on its agenda.  We participate in the local community governing process by sitting on both the Local Public Safety Coordinating Council (LPSCC) and the Mental Health Advisory Committee (MHAC).  We are making room in our new Samaritan Pacific Communities Hospital expansion to include space and beds for a detox treatment center.  Where we have a sticky problem is trying to build resources within our smaller communities similar to Katie’s Way, where getting help comes from a safe and secure setting managed by non institutional professionals and volunteers.

Katie’s Way is a non-profit public private partnership business model we need to get serious about right now!  There have been attempts in the past that have either failed or struggled to achieve sustainability.  We have the compassion, passion, and talent in Lincoln County to make it happen, we just need to go the extra mile.  I hope the story of Katie’s Way will give us the extra energy and commitment to move forward more quickly.

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.

Depoe Bay City Councilor

https://www.facebook.com/councilorsparks     Please “like” my page…

 

 

Listening is a tough act to follow… Awareness comes from the soul…

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With hyper-vigilance comes listening from your soul…click for larger view…

Paying attention is the key to awareness… Deepak Chopra about listening…Deepak

“The execution of any task or project depends on someone paying attention to someone else. Success isn’t created in a vacuum. It emerges from the situation at hand.  The situation can be a crisis or a routine project, a management problem or a simple exchange of information. The more skilled you are at paying attention, the higher your chances of success, along with other benefits such as not wasting time and getting along with co-workers.”

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Listening is a great challenge for most of us.  We work to improve this sensory skill for a lifetime.   Some of us have extra sensory skills called hyper-vigilance or being on alert with intensity most of the time.  In my experience, this extraordinary listening capacity can be powerful and comes from your soul.  We are either born with this complementary skill of a high level of vigilance or it is caused by experiencing a traumatic event(s) in life, or both.  Hyper-vigilance can be a huge benefit to improve listening and awareness if managed effectively.  If not, being on alert constantly can be very tiring and annoying to others as well.

My own hyper-vigilance, caused by experiencing childhood and young adult trauma, has been a benefit for the most part in my life, especially on a professional level.  Being on alert for danger all the time at home with loved ones is not so beneficial.  I have a keen sense of awareness about hyper-vigilance at this stage in my life, including the roots of this behavior.  With increased awareness, a person gifted with a high level of vigilance can become a much better listener in positive ways both at work and in the comfort of your home.

For me, becoming a better listener with loved ones and close friends offers the most value in improving interpersonal communications.  Even if you are a typical listener with good to excellent awareness intensity, learning more about the extreme nature of hyper-vigilance can provide an extra edge by learning a mindful or soulful approach to listening.  What used to be considered a troublesome symptomatic condition of post-trauma stress (PTS) is now viewed as a heightened awareness advantage…with major benefits on a professional level and at home where it really counts…

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…