Tag Archives: children of warriors

Prevent Domestic Violence in Life After War…Kids Become Collateral Damage…


sparks kickstarter1

survivethriveptsd.com A work in progress, anticipated publish date September 2016.


Treatment Interventions for Veterans with PTSD  by Mike Willbur, M.S., LMHC and Susanne Ruiz Rodriguez, Esq, M.S.

“If there is violence and/or abuse in the home, recognize it for what it really is – violence and abuse. Violence and/or abuse are present in a place that is supposed to be a sanctuary. Does everyone under the roof where you live feel safe? Does your partner feel self-empowered? Is there mutual respect in the home? When you feel irritable, are you able to talk about it with your partner? These are just a few questions that should be asked and if not answered appropriately, then it’s time to seek help.”


When loved ones return home following deployment in hard combat, the risk of domestic violence resulting from post-trauma stress is much higher without proactive treatment.  The stigma of mental health challenges takes a toll on the entire family, especially children, because those who suffer from the horrific memories of war are often in denial  for many reasons and refuse treatment.  I know this to be true as a post WWII child who carries the emotional baggage of domestic violence to this day. My research shows evidence of an epidemic of generational post-trauma stress in literally thousands of families who live with emotional pain and toxic family relationships from one generation to the next.  How can we break the cycle of abuse and emotional pain that seems to stick like bad genes in families who must learn to love all over again?

I so wish and pray that healing from post-traumatic stress (PTS) could be as simple and easy as treating a case of the measles or the flu, or even taking clear steps to avoid or cure more serious physical health challenges.  But in treating PTS,  it is clearly very complicated and often a life long process or journey of healing…

We know so much more and have a high level of awareness of post-traumatic stress circumstances in the 21st Century.  It is up to families to break the cycle of pain by seeking pre-deployment preparation and education as a first step.  Do not wait! Build a proactive plan as a family.  There are excellent resources at your fingertips just by doing a search with the words “post-trauma stress.”  My website includes archives of over 800 posts, articles and links, books to purchase and download to your ebook reader.

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma Part 1&2…  Click the highlighted text to order books and other stuff…from Amazon…


Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Child Advocate



Steve Sparks Amazon.com

Child Abuse Primes the Brain for the Future… Saving our kids from the baggage of post-trauma stress!


Child Abuse and Maltreatment Affects Brain Development in Early Childhood…

Child Abuse Primes the Brain…, TIME

“Child maltreatment has been called the tobacco industry of mental health. Much the way smoking directly causes or triggers predispositions for physical disease, early abuse may contribute to virtually all types of mental illness.”


My latest book project “I Worry About the Kids,” gives this topic significant attention in a workbook format to help parents, teachers, and mentors become far more aware and effective in working with the symptoms of child abuse.  My first edition of this book, “My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 2,” is published as a robust ebook on the Amazon KDP platform.  Stay tuned for more…

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, and to order books, etc.


Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Child Advocate


Saving your children from the emotional baggage of early childhood trauma…

Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS)…I Worry Most About Kids from Birth to Age 6…


Dakotah, Age 4…a foster child who experienced early child trauma…

Post-Traumatic Stress in Children Age 6 and Under… quote from Anxiety and Depression Association of America… Click highlighted link for more on this topic…

Two or more of the following symptoms can emerge in young children who experience traumatic and toxic circumstances.

  • irritable, angry, or aggressive behavior, including extreme temper tantrums
  • hypervigilance
  • exaggerated startle response
  • problems with concentration
  • difficulty falling or staying asleep or restless sleep


I’m asked often why I worry about babies and younger children the most when thinking, talking and writing about post-traumatic stress (PTS) and the toxic circumstances that often go with a family who suffers from PTS.  These are typically families with parents who served in hard combat as warriors and come home with the nagging symptoms of anxiety, depression, and anger that affects the entire family, especially kids.  I have taken the opportunity in this blog post to help answer this most important question with the goal to educate parents, teachers, mentors, and loved ones to be particularly sensitive to young children age 6 and under.  These are the little ones impacted the most.  This is the time of a child’s life when parents, teachers and loved ones who care for children can make a big difference in mitigating the potential long term emotional damage caused by PTS.

I started an exercise on a blank piece of paper keeping in mind the question, “why I worry about kids in toxic circumstances.”  I took a break after writing down about 35 “trigger” words that came to me from my own life experience.  These are words that needed to be transformed from fear to constructive healing over the years…redefining myself in a more positive context.  Then, I found the above link connected to trauma affected children age 6 and under.  These are the little ones I worry about the most…they are completely at the mercy of the grown ups in a toxic world that is often not even remembered…I have significant memory loss from my childhood, but the feelings of fear of this time remain with me. I do have vague but painful memories of kindergarten and 1st grade.  My memory then fades until around age 10.  Most all the “trigger” words can be organized and connected to the narrative in this link.  The bottom line in my journey of healing that pushes me forward with joy each day is forgiveness of self and others.

I worry the most about the babies, toddlers, preschoolers and K-1 kids who are damaged emotionally and must then face the real world for the first time with limited socialization. They are scared, very scared of themselves, others, and everything else they encounter.  Kids like this (me during my early childhood) are on alert for danger and behave defensively.  They are isolated, emotional, and often act out.  The ability to focus and concentrate is difficult at best.  There is little or no trust in adults.  While other typical  kids are laughing and playing and learning, trauma affected kids shy away and hide,  minds wondering without self regulation or a positive structure… These kids most often feel detached and out of place with peers.

The “trigger” words caused me to drift back in time and remember how it felt as a kid…So I now worry about children in this way, especially if it is clear they are troubled little souls.  I ask not what is wrong with these children, I ask what happened to them?  There is much sadness in my heart when thinking of children who must endure and survive a toxic home culture.

My goal as a trauma survivor who has done significant research and writing on the topic of PTS, is to produce a trauma informed work book to serve as a lay persons reference guide for parents, teachers, and mentors.  The process of developing a work book is at the beginning stage.   I anticipate a hardcopy publication to be completed by the end of 1st quarter 2016.  We adults must become trauma informed to be better equipped to help young children who have suffered from traumatic experiences.  Our children represent the best hope for the future.  It is during the younger years of a child when we have the best chance to mitigate the longer term emotional damage caused by exposure to traumatic circumstances.

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


Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Child Advocate

“The Wrath of Stigma!” is the first chapter of my new book, My Journey of Healing in Life after Trauma, Part 2.


Saving your children, family and loved ones from inter-generational Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS)

Following is an excerpt from my new book to be released soon…

“Stigma is a self-fulfilling prophecy,” they say…  “After all the research and writing on the subject of PTS/PTSD, including this blog with close to 800 postings offering tons of information about my own experience, references and resources with the goal to help others, the human condition of STIGMA leaves me stone cold and in a quandary.  It is clear that we should all seek treatment immediately following a moral injury and living with the awful symptoms of depression and anxiety, including panic attacks.  But it would be dishonest for me to suggest to anyone who fears losing opportunities and dreams of career success, especially loving relationships and spiritual growth in life, to ever admit a mental health challenge.

My latest book is dedicated to the 70th Anniversary of the End of WWII.

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…

Please Help Neighbors for Kids in Depoe Bay, Oregon…overflow parking required by zoning laws…


GoFundMe…Neighbors for Kids overflow parking is required by City of Depoe Bay zoning.  Our 7600 sqft community education and recreation center needs additional parking to hold special events for children and families…and for earned income opportunities and fund raising…

A donation of any amount is most appreciated…Thank you!

Steve Sparks, Vice Chair, www.neighborsforkids.org


“Mommie, Why Is Daddy So Mad All The Time?” Children need to know it is not their fault?


Steve Sparks, Age 10, 1956… “”Why is Dad so mad and angry all the time?”


Why Is Dad So Mad… Click on the highlighted text to order this book or from my sidebar….

by Seth Kastle (Author)


“Why is Dad so Mad”  click on this ground breaking video clip right now…

‘Why Is Dad So Mad?’ Veteran Writes Book to Explain His PTSD to His Daughter

Quote from the video transcript…

“In “Why Is Dad So Mad?” a family of lions — representing the Kastle family — is battling to overcome the father lion’s PTSD. In the book’s colorful pages, the father lion is shown with a raging fire inside his chest. That image, and its message, made an impact on Kastle’s 6-year-old daughter, Raegan.”

“No matter what, when they’re mad or sad at you, they still love you,” explained Raegan, admiring her father’s book in her playroom. “There’s always a fire in his heart, but no matter what, I know there’s love.”


When my buddy Byron called me to share his discovery of this new children’s book, I was excited!  Most books are written for adults, like my own non fiction publication, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story…  For the first time since the 1950’s, during the most challenging times as a military child growing up with a father who suffered from the horrors and WWII and Korean War, I remembered vividly the question we all asked daily, “why is dad so mad and angry all the time?”

We never got an answer to that question while growing up.  But I remember asking the question out loud to my mother, brothers and sister just about every day and with self talk.  If I had known back then that Dad had a “fire in his chest” caused by exposure to the trauma of war, it would no doubt have been a blessing for the entire Sparks family.  But we did not know how to talk about it without being pushed back and asked to mind our own business.  Sometimes just asking the question made our parents even more anxious with angry outbursts and sometimes beatings to suggest it what wrong for us to ask questions.  I know we persisted and very much wanted to understand as children about the toxic circumstances in our home.  It was not until later in life that I took a leap of faith and started to find out on my own through research and writing my own book for adults to help us heal.

A book for children is a critical step in the right direction.  It is tough to talk about the subject of PTS/PTSD among ourselves as adults, let alone figuring out how to discuss this emotional subject with kids.  Just listening to the video of the child’s interaction with her father, reinforces the value of writing illustrated books for children on the subject of post trauma symptoms and treatment.  I can’t wait to get the book in my hands and start a campaign to write more books for kids that help see that parents who suffer from post trauma symptoms of anger and other scary behaviors still love their children and it is not the child’s fault.  I left home at age 17 with the perception that all the troubles in our home while growing up fell on my shoulders…a heavy burden of emotional baggage to carry forward…

It is so important to figure out creative ways to help kids understand that parental anger and rage is most often not the fault of children.  If we don’t make them aware consistently of this critical fact, they will certainly grow up believing that for some reason that the angry behaviors and outbursts, including physical and mental abuse, was a result of something the child perpetrated.

If children do not understand the roots of parental toxic behavior, especially if it is related to moral injury from hard combat experience or other traumatic life events, they will surely take the emotional baggage into adult life and potentially affect the lives of loved ones, including their own children.  The intergenerational effects of PTS/PTSD are very real.  I live with the symptoms of PTS every day of my life, but now have peace of mind after discovering the roots of my own family’s troubled post WWII circumstances of life after war.

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


Reconciliation: A Son’s Story by Steve Sparks, Signalman Publishing, November 2011…Click on the highlighted text to order book.

“Be A Kid’s Hero Daily” by Ginger Kadlec… What is child maltreatment?

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Steve Sparks, age 10 in 1956, was a victim of “child maltreatment” during his early child and young adult life…

Child Maltreatment is Real!  Quote from Ginger Kadlec’s “Be a Child’s Hero Daily” website…

“Child “maltreatment” is defined as “violent or cruel treatment” and encompasses a variety of abuses including physical, sexual and emotional abuse and neglect.  Researchers reviewed nearly 5.7 million confirmed cases of maltreatment that were registered in the The National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS). This study found that approximately 80% of the child maltreatment cases involved neglect.”


Child advocate, blogger and children’s author “wanna-be” working to improve the world one child at a time. Join Ginger’s efforts via her website at www.gingerkadlec.com.


Be a Kid’s Hero…click for larger view…

Be a Kid’s Hero Daily…  Click on this website and subscribe to updates…  Quote from Ginger Kadlec…

“With an estimated 1 in 8 children victimized by maltreatment in the United States, child abuse is a problem of pandemic proportion. While it can be a difficult subject to discuss, we must address the issue of child abuse head-on to ensure the safety of little ones who entrust their very lives to the big people around them.”


Ginger Kadlec is one of my favorite heroes!  She is by any measure an example of “Be a Kid’s Hero Daily.”  Ginger and I became friends a couple of years ago and collaborated on an article, The War Within: PTSD, (click highlighted text) that remains very popular to this day…  Ginger and I stay in touch on a regular basis.  She gave me great encouragement and helped me on my own journey of healing following the publication of Reconciliation: A Son’s Story in November 2011.

I refer to my life as a child as the “too terrible to remember 1950’s and early 1960’s.  It took me most of my adult life to forgive my parents and the toxic life we lived while growing up.  Forgiveness was absolutely critical to healing from child abuse and emotional neglect during my early years as a kid and young adult.  My father suffered terribly as a victim of severe trauma from hard combat during all of WWII and deployment during the Korean War as well.  My mother developed severe symptoms of secondary PTSD from her own Depression Era childhood, and as a military spouse and mother from the “Greatest Generation.”  Dad passed away in 1998 and lived a relatively peaceful life during his last years following a regimen of mental health treatments.  Mother is turning 96 this September and still has flashbacks from those post WWII years as a caregiver for my father.  We siblings carried the emotional baggage of PTSD forward as well, which we now know as the intergenerational effect and impact of living in a toxic home where love and kindness is almost non-existent.  PTSD hangs on like bad genes if not treated effectively or if the trauma victim is in denial….

I enjoy peace of mind these days as a senior citizen.  No longer are the bad dreams, the constant anxiety, depression, and ache in my heart, including physical pain.  No child should have to live with toxic circumstances at home, at play, or in school…never!  I spend my life in retirement making a difference for kids in my work with Neighbors for Kids in Depoe Bay, Oregon.  My life now is a blessing and a journey of healing, but still a work in progress.  Kids or adults who suffer from severe trauma often live with PTSD symptoms for a lifetime…the pain never leaves your heart and mind…but alternative treatment strategies keep my feet on the ground.  I am also blessed with an amazing spouse, family members, and great friends who help keep me focused on the love and kindness I so desperately needed as a kid, and didn’t discover until later in life…

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…