Category Archives: Military Spouses

Honoring Military Spouses and Mothers of Modern Wars…Happy 97th to my Mom, WWII & Korean War…


Marcella C. Sparks, Age 97, US Navy Spouse & Mother WWII & Korean War.  With son, Steve Sparks…


Vernon H. Sparks, BMC, US Navy c1943, USS Belle Grove LSD2


Military Spouses Now & Then… By Dana Bretz Click on this link for more…  Quote…from Military Spouses Advocacy Network…

“Twenty three years later (following WWI), we were preparing for yet another world war and we answered that all too familiar call. The call that your country needs you, and without hesitation spouses gave what their country demanded of them, even on the heels of The Great Depression when times were still tough. Spouses went to work in defense plants and volunteered for many war related organizations such as The Red Cross. Life on the home front was a crucial part of the war effort and had a significant influence on the outcome of this particular war. Spouses, in part, helped supply the fruits of victory. That is where we come from, remember that!”


The photo above of my mother was taken recently while visiting her in Reno, Nevada.  With each visit for so many years now, I couldn’t help asking myself if this was the last time I would see her.  Well, Mom, is turning age 97 this month of September and she is still up and around living her life in the comfortable and caring home of Regent Care Center in Reno, Nevada.

We owe so much to the military spouses and moms of all wars!  “Together we served!”  Without the courageous military spouses of “then and now,” we military kids, including my own boomer generation, would not be here at all.  War weary soldiers and sailors had the hopes and dreams of going home to resume their lives, which gave them the spiritual power and bravery to get through each day, no matter how horrific the circumstances of battle.  We remember and honor the ultimate sacrifice of countless numbers of warriors who didn’t make it home.  Many had children they never met.  It was then and now that the military spouse as a single mom, had to carry on and raise the children who would not have a father.  For those warriors who did come home, the war often came home with them.  It was then and now a double duty to care for a broken warrior as well as raise the children who came before and after the war was over…


Regent Care Center, Reno, Nv

It is with love, privilege and honor to celebrate my mother’s birthday; and her service to America.  Military families serve(d) too!  It was a hard road for my parents and countless couples who came out of the Depression Era to fight for freedom during World War II.  The home front was critical to fighting and winning wars then and now…

Happy Birthday, Mom!  I am counting on our next visit.  The memories of all our visits in recent years are very special…

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life after Trauma, Part 1 & 2… Click the highlighted text for my author page…


Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, and Child Advocate

The caregivers of our warriors who serve too! Who picks up the fight when our heroes come home?

Hidden Heroes…  Click on this powerful video clip from ABC News! 1.1 million caregivers volunteer and are at risk of their own anxiety and depression…secondary PTS… From ABC News…


Elizabeth Dole, “Hidden Heroes”

Elizabeth Dole Foundation…  Quote from Elizabeth Dole…

5.5 Million Reasons to Support Military and Veteran Caregivers by Senator Elizabeth Dole

“As I reflect on the national conversation we have initiated about military and veteran caregiving, one number continues to ring out in my mind – 5.5 million. The RAND Corporation report my Foundation commissioned revealed that 5.5 million Americans are caring for ill or wounded service members and veterans. When I first heard the figure, it astounded me. To think that so many loved ones have been quietly caring for those who have cared for us…


When I was growing up as a post WWII and Korean War military child, the term “veteran caregiver” was not used nor would the significance or implications be understood.  Caregiving was something you heard about in nursing homes or hospitals, not at home.  Who would ever think that a WWII hero like my father Vernon, who was training boots at the US Naval Training Center in San Diego in 1948, needed a “caregiver.”  Not a chance!  But in reality my Dad, like thousands of combat veterans from that time, needed lots of help inside and outside of the home.  As a family we were the caregivers at home by default, so to speak.  My oldest brother, Jerry, as an example became very much part of the family caregiving team along with Mom.  He didn’t ask for it, he had no choice…  And we were all affected by the emotional turmoil of my father’s suffering following WWII and the Korean War.

We siblings knew something was out of sorts in our home, but didn’t really understand, so the toxic behavior and struggles as a family were thought to be normal and private…not a word to anyone outside of the home!  So we moved forward one day at a time as a family, fearing what each day would bring.  It was a blessing for us to get away from home for school and play.  We hated to return!  When we did return, hiding out in our room, in the basement, or outside close to home when the weather permitted, felt safer.  We wanted to stay clear of Dad because he was always angry…  The sad part is we took all the emotional baggage with us well into adult life, and needed “caregivers” as the next generation of trauma victims.  Reference the “Trauma-Informed Caregiver Practice Guide.”

I am now very encouraged that all the awareness about the needs of the children and families of veterans and those who served in combat is creating a new culture of sensitivity in America and around the globe.  Caregiving is no longer a word that belongs to a nurse or doctor in a facility outside of the home.  The stigma of mental health will someday be a thing of the past, probably not in my lifetime.  What I do see happening, and participate in my own work as an author and blogger, is heartwarming.  I have peace of mind now with clear understanding of my own past living in a toxic home following WWII.  I am also convinced that the momentum of the new “caregiving” culture for our heroes is taking hold.  The “suck up” mentality and “go home and forget about it” coaching from the military is over.

I am especially grateful that the conversation and the work of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation includes the children and families, the primary caregivers of warriors, who served America too…long after the wars of our time are over.  The war clearly comes home to the military families to begin another fight to bring peace of mind back into the hearts and souls of the loved ones who served on the battlefield or at sea fighting to protect our freedoms.

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

Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my books, My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1… (Kindle $2.99), and Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Click and order paperback or download Kindle version.  Buy my book at Barnes & Noble as well… Thank you! Steve Sparks, Author


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What are the true costs of war to the children and families of veterans?

Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my books, My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1… (Kindle $2.99), and Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Click and order paperback or download Kindle version.  Buy my book at Barnes & Noble as well… Thank you! Steve Sparks, Author spouse-daughterWith 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 unreported cost of war…the children and families…  click on the powerful and revealing article and video clip…quote from this website article…  From CNN, “The Uncounted”

“Every day, 22 veterans commit suicide. That number is sadly familiar. It has become a symbol of the cost of war that extends beyond the battlefield.

But no one is tracking war’s impact on another group: military spouses, siblings and parents.”

My mother, Marcella, is turning 96 years young in September of 2014…  She lives comfortably in an assisted living home in Reno, Nevada surrounded by loving care givers.  Judy and I are planning our next visit with Mom later in May while traveling to Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Mother is a surviving WWII and Korean War spouse and mother who served too!

I recall vividly the many times mother would say, “I wish I never lived!”  At best she contemplated suicide or wishes of not living.  I don’t know if she ever tried to carry out the act.  I do know Mom was and still is suffering from the symptoms of PTSD after all these years.  She was a single mother with first born son, Jerry, for all of WWII.  Dad was in Pearl Harbor aboard the USS West Virginia during the surprise Japanese attack on the US Navy Pacific Fleet on December 7, 1941.  My brother, Jerry, was born three months before Pearl Harbor.  Dad finally came home in June of 1945, the beginning of the war at home that never ended.  He was later deployed during the Korean War for almost 1 year.

I write in my book about our family’s struggle in life after war during all the years of my own childhood, and as an adult affected by growing up with a WWII hero severely affected by the symptoms of PTSD.   I believe my mother was damaged beyond repair.  I also believe we children could not avoid being affected by the toxic and sometimes violent nature of home life during the 1950’s and early 1960’s.  It was a time in our lives we all wanted to forget.  All we ever thought about was growing up and getting away from the scary dysfunctional behavior and never returning home again.

As reported in the referenced article by CNN, America has often turned its head away from the children and families who paid a big price as the sole caregivers and descendants of veterans from all wars.  In this report and video clip we see the heart wrenching interviews of military family members who tell us more about the challenges of military life and the lingering effects of war on children and families.  The wars and the horrific memories of combat never ended for combat veterans when they returned home.  It has always been very difficult and sometimes hopeless for veterans to eventually readjust to civilian life and find a happy place at home again.  It is also true that loved ones and family members suffered terribly during the long deployments of the men and women deployed during all wars.  I can say from my own experience as a post WWII military child that the war did not end once Dad returned home.  It was just getting started…

Steve Sparks, Author, My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1 (Kindle $2.99) and Reconciliation: A Son’s Story…please go to my author page to order…