Tag Archives: CNN

Post-Trauma Stress Comes to Families in More Ways Than One…

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Carlos Gutierrez says the Holy Spirit didn’t take hold of him until five years ago…

Man who lost legs to Mexico’s cartel violence…receives Pope blessings… Click and listen to highly informative and heart wrenching video clip…

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It is often the case and misperception, when speaking to families about post-traumatic stress, that it is only combat veterans who experience the horrors of war that suffer from PTSD.  Not so!  My latest book project, “I Worry About the Kids,” is structured as a workbook for parents, teachers, and mentors to engage in identifying their own needs for PTSD awareness and how to help children, especially early childhood.  So many families reach out and find it difficult to understand this topic, especially how it relates to their own family circumstances.  My new book project provides a lay person or trauma survivor’s view and research that connects to families in a real way.  Click on my website and author page to learn more…

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

SteveSunriver

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Child Advocate

Remember Pearl Harbor…Honoring my Father and Shipmates who Served Aboard the USS West Virginia (BB48) on December 7, 1941…

USS West Virgina

USS West Virginia (BB48) Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941… It was when this photo was taken, my Dad, Vernon H. Sparks, US Navy, Coxswain, was swimming to Ford Island following the call by Capt. Bennion to “Abandon Ship!”

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Vernon H. Sparks, Boatswains Mate Chief, USS Belle Grove (LSD2) 1943-45 Serving in the Pacific War…

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Vernon and Marcella Sparks c1940…

Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, December 7, 1941…My Father’s Memories…

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The well recognized photo of the USS West Virginia (BB48) is very personal to me.  I know my father, Vernon, was swimming to Ford Island at the time the photo was taken of his ship sinking in Pearl Harbor.  The heartfelt feelings are healing and provide a special spiritual connection to my father.  When asked, Dad talked of his experience on that fateful day so long ago… I could tell it was hard for Dad to speak of the events because the memories were so vivid and painful for him.  He lost his best friend and shipmate Roy Powers on that day, and could never get past the memory of seeing his battle buddy falling back headless from looking out the porthole of the ship during the bombing.  Dad rarely spoke of the rest of WWII and the many months he spent in hard combat in the South Pacific.  He finally came home in June of 1945 just before WWII ended.  I tell my family’s post WWII story of forgiveness and healing in the books listed below.

My cousin, Dawn, in Minneapolis, Mn., sent me Dad’s written account of his experience aboard the USS West Virginia (BB48) before he finally abandoned ship as ordered.  Dad wrote his account for the US Park Service on the 50th Anniversary (1991) of the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor.(click on this powerful ABC video clip)!  This was the first time he returned to Pearl Harbor following WWII to receive the Pearl Harbor Survivors Medal.  The unexplained part of this story, is that my father never shared the US Park Service document with his immediate family.  He mailed it to his sister, Dolly, for safe keeping.  My guess  is that it was too painful for him to share the tragic details with us by revisiting the experience over and over again…

In honor of all those who served, and the families who waited for weeks to learn of the fate of loved ones, following is my father Vernon’s transcribed first person account of those minutes following the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941…

Vernon H. Sparks Handwritten Account

Following is a transcription from the National Park Service…

National Park Service

Survivor Questionnaire – Persons Present December 7, 1941, Oahu, Territory of Hawaii

Vernon H. Sparks, US Navy, Battleship USS West Virginia, Coxswain

Hometown: St. Paul, Mn

Brief Account of What Happened to You Before, During, & After the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor.

I was on the 3rd deck heading for the anchor windless room when the first torpedo hit the USS West Virginia. From there, more bombing and torpedoes-when all hell broke loose.Men in the brig were screaming for help. I could not respond, there was no time…to check where the Marine guard was with the keys to the cells. Evidently, he had already been hit.The men in the brig were engulfed in water and perished.I worked my way up to the2nd deck with water up to my waist.By this time, I came to a hatch with the manhole still open leading to the main deck.I barely made it out of the escape hatch and was ordered by Lt. Stark to close that hatch.The men were still down there but it was too late for them.That was the first time I heard that the Japs were attacking our fleet…and the whole island. I watched one of my best shipmates get himself killed-Roy Powers.He stuck his head out the port side close to the ship-fitters shop; and about that time another torpedo hit and the concussion blew his head off.His body fell back on deck headless.  After that it was a matter of surviving.  There was no defense, the ship was already listing to port at about 35 degrees angle.I worked myself up further on the deck and observed the Commanding Officer, Mervyn S. Bennion heading for the bridge.The strafing and bombing was still on.When I arrived on the main deck going forward to the number one turret…strafing still going on…I dived under the overhang of the turret.Communications was out, so by word of mouth heard the order, “all hands abandon ship.”Note: Capt. Bennion was lying on the wing of the bridge mortally wounded…He asked the doc, “What kind of chance he had?”And was told, “Not much Captain.”Then, Captain Bennion said, “Leave me on the bridge and this is my last order, ALL HANDS ABANDON SHIP!”He died right after that order… After that order I jumped over the side to starboard and swam to Ford Island…Us guys that made it were standing on the beach watching the USS Arizona blow up sky high…what a helpless feeling.  I had torn my white uniform up to use as emergency treatment bandages for the wounded. Anyway, to make a long story short, we dashed across the field under strafing conditions to shelter. In the BOQ, we were able shower in there and salvage clothes from the lockers, and helped organize the Harbor Patrol. And was with that duty for a few months – then assigned to new construction with the 5th Amphibious Force hitting the beaches of the South Pacific, all the way, then finally Iwo Jima, & Okinawa until the Peace Treaty was signed aboard the USS Missouri in Toyko, Japan.  People like myself could go on & on…but that would take a book…

Vernon H. Sparks, December 7, 1941, Battleship USS West Virginia

From Ship’s Crew Muster

Sparks, Vernon H.328-41-29Cox.13Jan.3610/12/39

“Remember Pearl Harbor!”

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1&2…Click on highlighted text for my author page…and to download e-books or paperback.

SteveSunriver

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Child Advocate

You can also purchase the Pearl Harbor 50th Anniversary Edition…by clicking the highlighted text or on my sidebar…

“I feel nothing, or I am just angry!” Soledad O’Brien: “For veterans, the war comes home…”

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Moving new CNN Special Presentation Explores Hope for Vets Struggling with Post Traumatic Stress…

A Soledad O’Brien Report… 

 

 

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Garrett Combs, left, and Delon Beckett this month at a screening of “The War Comes Home.”  Click for larger view…

The outer shell of him came back. But everything on the inside was dead. 
Emme Beckett

The War Comes Home…A CNN Special Report… Click for story and video clip…a must see!  Quote from the story…

Clark said many of the men and women in his program have tried to commit suicide and had frightening near misses. Attempted suicide by cop, attempted hangings, car crashes, some even tried to kill themselves at home in the company of family or friends. Clark was there himself, no job and struggling in recovery. His experience and those of his friends are what prompted him to scrape up the money to try developing a program.”

“The meditation keeps me sober,” Beckett said of the central technique in the program. “It was only 5½ days but I learned things for my whole life.” One of the things he learned was that there is power in sharing your problem with other warriors.

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The combat veteran who suffered from trauma as a child is considered a much higher risk for compounded post trauma symptoms and PTSD.  As a US Navy military child growing up in the 1950’s and early 1960’s living with a father who braved all of WWII in hard combat and a tour of duty during the Korean War…I was already affected with the symptoms of PTSD when joining the US Navy in 1963…but didn’t have a clue.  I didn’t even experience combat but was diagnosed with symptoms of severe depression and anxiety while serving in the Navy anyway.  I am a strong believer in alternative treatment strategies that include the entire family.  Otherwise, it is very difficult if not impossible to stop the intergenerational cycle of pain connected with trauma survivors.

The treatment strategies outlined in this documentary are designed to treat the combat veteran trauma survivor as well as family members. While visiting the Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center in Albuquerque, NMex  (click highlighted text for more) in May the clinical psychologists and psychiatrists present during my talk, shared that they think about the need for including the entire family in treatment, but sadly, only have the resources to treat veterans individually, excluding the family as whole.

Don’t let your veteran go it alone once on the journey of “coming home.”  Coming home can never be a reality until the trauma survivor finally feels peace of mind, self worth, and a productive member of society who can love and be loved again.  Rebuilding trust is the true test of finally coming home permanently…

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…