“Wildfire survivor now helps others endure tragedy…” 1st responders often fight the same life after trauma challenges as warriors…

by | Sep 24, 2013

Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Click and order paperback or download Kindle version. Thank you! 

Kim Lightley, former Hotshot Firefighter…

Firefighter Memorial
Celebration of Honor “Traveling Tribute Wall…”

Kim Lightley helps 1st responders heal…  Click on this site to view video clip…

by Pat Dooris, KGW reporter



Posted on September 19, 2013 at 5:40 PM

Updated Thursday, Sep 19 at 7:04 PM

PORTLAND — The mournful sound of bagpipes rang out in Salem Thursday at the Fallen Firefighter Memorial. The yearly gathering honors the men and women who have died in the line of duty.
Kim Lightley has heard the bagpipes far too often.
“We’re all feeling the same pain,” she said before the ceremony.
Her pain is never far away. Ninteen years ago, Lightley attacked fire on mountains with the Prineville Hotshots. In July of 1994, a routine looking fire blew up on Storm King Mountain in Colorado. Lightley ran for her life and barely escaped. Fourteen others, including 9 of her friends, died.

We remembered and honored 1st responders this past weekend during the Celebration of Honor weekend at Chinook Winds Casino Resort in Lincoln City, Oregon.  I spent most of the weekend to honor fellow veterans and 1st responders who lost their lives in the line of duty in war and on the home front.  It was also a weekend to honor all those who serve and have served America to protect our freedoms and to keep us safe at home…

Kim Lightley lives with the symptoms of PTSD many years following the loss of 9 of her friends in the 1994 fire on Storm King Mountain in Colorado.  Kim’s own journey of healing takes her to firefighter memorials around America to help other 1st responders to begin the hard road of healing.  The biggest challenge of healing from traumatic life events is the path of denial and treatment avoidance.  The “suck it up” mindset and the fear or stigma connected with mental health is very difficult to overcome.  I see and hear the stigma in my own work everyday connecting with post trauma survivors who work hard to move on with their lives.  We survivors who are willing to step up and start the conversation of awareness and healing, are also challenged with the stigma because it is tough for victims and families to talk about a subject so sensitive and painful.  It took me most of my life to confront denial head on before starting my own journey of healing at age 64.  Kim Lightley along with many survivors who thrive in the face of painful memories do so by helping others and making a difference for the greater good.  Writing and speaking about life after war and trauma is healing.  Human connectedness is a critical component in separating yourself from painful traumatic events of the past and regaining the moral balance and peace of mind we all deserve. 

My favorite quote says it all…by Maya Angelou…

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.”

Best wishes to my fellow survivors to “thrive” in your life after trauma as a warrior or on the home front as 1st responders keeping America safe and protecting our freedoms.

Steve Sparks
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story  click to order…

About the author

Steve Sparks is a retired information technology sales and marketing executive with over 35 years of industry experience, including a Bachelors’ in Management from St. Mary’s College. His creative outlet is as a non-fiction author, writing about his roots as a post-WWII US Navy military child growing up in the 1950s-1960s.
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