Tag Archives: Museum of the American Military Family

Boomers Turn Age 70! We 46ers ain’t done yet!

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Kathleen Casey-Kirschling, First Boomer, “You only have the moment. You can’t live in the past, and you don’t know what the future is going to bring.”

Boomers Turn 70!  by Bill Newcott, AARP Your Life… Reference article and website, click highlighted text.

Excerpt from my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story, published in 2011…Signalman Publishing, Orlando, Florida

A New Beginning!

Using words like summary for the end of this story seems off the mark. I have a hopeful outlook in writing this book after doing research and connecting the dots. Life can begin again at any stage in life, especially for those of us who are entering the golden years. Writing this story has given me energy, renewed confidence, and a much brighter look into the future. Finding peace of mind has been a huge benefit, but requires continued effort. I believe more now that when one reaches out for answers to big questions and becomes fully engaged in living in a proactive way, we find more peace of mind. My thinking has changed from thoughts of death and dying or old age to planning my next writing project, next adventure, and sharing more romance with Judy. It is never time to sit down and forget about it all. It is extremely healthy for the mind and body to be engaged, to discover, to learn, and to love. Living, learning and loving never ends until the day we actually leave this life for good and go on to the next life, assuming the faith that this is where we are headed.

“Retirement” means transitioning to new beginnings rather than stepping away from all the action. There is really more action in retirement if you are willing to take the leap of faith, and jump in and continue to make a difference in your life and the life of others. The more of my time spent giving to others feels like a gift. Continuing to share my life with soul-mate and wife Judy is comforting and exciting. Finding new friends and building new relationships is invigorating. Getting the most out of participating in the lives of friends and family, including watching my children grow along with the grandkids, is most gratifying. I can say life is as good as it can be as long as my feet stay firmly on the ground. Writing this book clearly represents a new beginning. I am very thankful for having the motivation to tackle this project and the many rewards it has and will produce in the future. I am ready for the next surprise and challenge life has in store for us!

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I didn’t know in 2011 how writing my first non-fiction memoir, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story, would change my life.  It was at that moment in time that writing became a source of healing from childhood invisible wounds.   Kathleen Casey-Kirschling, First Boomer, “You only have the moment. You can’t live in the past, and you don’t know what the future is going to bring.”  These words really hit home for me at this time in my life as age 70 looms on July 6, 2016.  Wow!  This new decade for me was a scary beginning of the New Year until healthy change came into my life and our family.  When it is time for change, it is up to all of us to take action…we own it!  My major action was to clear away my agenda and all commitments that were no longer rewarding or fun.  It was my time and the opportunity to make a difference for myself and to focus on my family, especially my loving wife, Judy.  I set myself free to love more, explore and to innovate.  It is a new day in the Sparks home!  We are busy with new goals, planning, and excitement for the very special years ahead of us.  I feel blessed and thankful for good health and new energy at age 69.  “We 46ers ain’t done yet!”

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.

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…

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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

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“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…

For Immediate Release…Museum of the American Military Family locates at Bataan Military Academy…

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – September 9, 2015 | Author: americanmilitaryfamilymuseum | Filed under: Brats, Events, Museum News, Museum of the American Military Family, News, The Board of Directors | Leave a comment logo copyFor Additional Information Dr. Allen Dale Olson militaryfamilymuseum@comcast.net (505) 400-3849

Museum of the American Military Family & Learning Center  Click on this link for more…

MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN MILITARY FAMILY & LEARNING CENTER (MAMF) LOCATES AT BATAAN MILITARY ACADEMY (BMA)

 

Groups Call Move a “Good Fit”

Albuquerque, NM – An Albuquerque charter school has just joined forces with the only museum in the country dedicated to the collection and preservation of the stories, documents, and artifacts of America’s military families. Both the Bataan Military Academy Charter School (BMA) and the Museum of the American Military Family (MAMF) have moved into 5555 McLeod Boulevard NE, Albuquerque.

BMA serves grades nine through twelve, meets U.S. Navy standards in curriculum and in Naval sciences, including standards in physical fitness and in honoring traditional Naval standards. The school is in partnership with parents, teachers, military organizations, and with the military services. Principal, “Captain” Jan Zink, works closely with the Academy’s Board of Governors, chaired by Dr. Alan Holmquist.

BMA students are cadets grouped as in a military organization and follow the rank structure of the Navy Junior Reserve Officer Corps (NJROTC). In addition to traditional high school activities and sports, BMA cadets also form color guards, drill teams, and rifle teams. The school is named for the 70,000 soldiers and sailors forced to surrender on Luzon in 1942, some 70,000 of whom died during the infamous “Bataan Death March.” Many of those who died were from New Mexico. Annually BMA cadets simulate that march in a 26-mile hike at White Sands Proving Grounds.

MAMF, founded four years ago by Dr. Circe Olson Woessner, a DoD “Brat,” an Army wife and an Army mother, has been active throughout Albuquerque– even without a facility– by presenting documentary film programs, stage performances, military ceremonies and major exhibits in various venues, including the National Nuclear Museum, the South Broadway Cultural Center, the International Balloon Museum, and the Wheels Museum.

MAMF’s volunteer Board of Directors includes an Artist-in-Residence, a Writer-in Residence, and liaison chairs to military spouses, military organizations, “Brats” and Veterans’ organizations. Its programs reach throughout the country through its Operation Footlocker, mobile exhibits which go to public schools, nursing homes, USO events, and to reunions of former students of Defense Department schools. MAMF is a 501 c 3 not for profit.

MAMF has a partnership with the American Overseas Schools Historical Society which represents thousands of former teachers and administrators in the Defense Department world-wide school system and with “Overseas Brats,” representing thousands of adult military “Brats.”

Till this semester, BMA had been on Mountain Road in Albuquerque, and MAMF existed as an on-line presence. In the McLeod facility, MAMF occupies the second floor; BMA the ground floor. Both Captain Zink and Executive Director Woessner believe the shared home makes a “good fit” for the school and the museum. They agree that the MAMF library, archives, exhibits, and historical folios of military family life are valuable resources for the cadets, who in turn, provide ceremonial support for MAMF programs.

The Museum is open by appointment only.

Tel: 505-504-3860

E-mail: militaryfamilymuseum@comcast.net

For additional information, visit:

http://bataanmilitaryacademy.org and/or http://www.museumoftheamericanmilitaryfamily.org.

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

SteveSunriver

Steve Sparks, Advisory Board Member, Museum of the American Military Family

For Immediate Release… My Journey of Healing in Life after Trauma, Part 2…Press Release!

Press Release–My Journey of Healing in Life after Trauma, Part 2… “Saving your children, family, and loved ones from inter-generational post traumatic stress (PTS).”

SteveSunriver

Steve Sparks, Author, Depoe Bay, Oregon

 

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

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 14, 2015 | Author Steve Sparks |

 

My Journey of Healing in Life after Trauma, Part 2, will be released on Friday August 14, 2015.  The nonfiction narrative represents four years of outreach and research captured from the author’s blog, Children and Families in Life after Trauma. Selected topics are organized into eight chapters focused on trauma affected family circumstances and positive outcomes.

This third book release is about Steve’s personal journey of healing.  He writes as a survivor of childhood and early adult trauma growing up in a toxic military family torn apart by WWII and Korean War.  Steve’s blog, Children and Families in Life after Trauma, provides rich content as an e-book.  The narrative carries the reader on a story of inspiration, passion, and discovery of the roots of trauma-affected children and provides strategies for parents, teachers, and loved ones to help mitigate the suffering.

Steve’s story addresses the broader circumstances of children and families living with traumatic experiences, including military families, 1st responders, kids growing up with domestic violence, and in troubled neighborhoods affected by gangs, drugs, and severe crime. Sparks carves out a path of healing and peace of mind that has brought joy to his life and far better relationships with family and friends, including far less stressful and more rewarding professional experiences. The book truly shows an inspirational and motivational journey that has its roots in making a difference for others. Steve lives with his wife and soul mate Judy in Depoe Bay, Oregon. Judy has been a critical partner in supporting his work, including writing the Foreword for this latest release. Circe Olson Woessner, executive director, Museum of the American Military Family (MAMF) writes an excellent Prologue to show the impact of post-traumatic stress (PTS) on the military family as a whole. One complete chapter of Steve’s book is dedicated to MAMF.

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

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

Circe

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…

The Military Family…The Invisible Pain of War on the Home Front…

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“Thank you for your service.” You’ve probably said that to our troops. Here’s your chance to thank their families. Post a tribute to a military family member and share that story of love and sacrifice with the world.”

 

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“With 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 Uncounted Casualties of War…  Quote from this website…a special report by CNN…video clips of interviews with military spouses and family members.

“Liz Snell wasn’t the type to step out ahead of her Marine. A good military wife, she believed, fell in line and worked quietly in the background. That’s why her volunteer resumé ran three pages long: She was a caseworker for families who needed financial advice. She coordinated job workshops for spouses who had to find new employment every time their warriors changed bases. She helped lead a volunteer program with the armed services branch of the Red Cross.

Liz’s medals were tokens of gratitude, small ways of recognizing that she served her country, too — reminders that America’s longest-running wars required military spouses to be strong and brave.”

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The emotional pain of trauma survivors reaches outward and can affect the mental health of the children and families of warriors for a lifetime, including uncounted suicides of spouses, children, and loved ones.  Military families are under great stress while soldiers and sailors are deployed for long periods of time.  The same families become the care givers of our heroes when they come home…often for a lifetime.  Family members who live with trauma survivors of war often become secondary victims of trauma, suffering from the same symptoms of PTSD and moral injury of combat veterans returning home.

My post WWII and Korean War US Navy family along with thousands of other military families were no exception.  The difference during my time is that we were completely unaware of the symptoms of anxiety, depression, and panic attacks that created an angry and toxic family culture.  Even though we learned about PTSD shortly after the end of the Vietnam War, and have since discovered appropriate alternative treatment strategies, America does not have the resources to help the affected military family as a whole.  There is also a great deal of stigma attached to mental health treatment for fear of compromising employment opportunities. 

Last May/June 2014, while visiting the American Military Family Museum, I spoke to an audience of mental health professionals at the Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center in Albuquerque, NM.  Following my talk about how families struggle as caregivers of warriors and often take on the same symptoms of PTSD, the clinical staff expressed a deep and emotional concern that they are unable to treat the whole family.  I was told that they can barely treat the high numbers of combat veterans returning home and older veterans, let alone the whole family.  In my view as a former military child growing up in the 1950’s and early 1960’s, that our lack of awareness and caregiving experience as a family, made matters at home exponentially worse.  Living and growing up in an angry and toxic home culture is tragic.  In the worst case scenario as in my case, our family was destroyed.  Just as soon as we reached legal age, we escaped a home that was like living in a prison camp.  We took all the anger and hate with us as adults.

In confronting my own demons from a toxic childhood, I researched, wrote, and published Reconciliation: A Son’s Story in November, 2011.   My goal in revisiting the past was to first forgive myself so that forgiveness would fill my life with new found love and hope for the future.  I found peace of mind.  I wanted to help my own family heal as well.

My high level of awareness and continued writing and work with children and families in life after trauma gives me the fuel to maintain a sense of peace with the past, and hopefully help others find their own path of healing.  The CNN reference article, The Uncounted, in my blog post today is one of the most revealing and powerful testimonials showing how war damages the hearts and souls of military families…  The most critical outcome and benefit of sharing these stories of trauma survival is to help mitigate the stigma connected with mental health treatment for the family as a whole.  Do not allow denial to keep the pain of trauma bottled up inside of you and your family.  Encouraging early treatment with a sense of urgency to save the lives of trauma victims offers the most hope for long term recovery and healing.

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… 

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My US Navy Military Mom, Marcella C. Sparks, Age 96…”She served too” with pride and honor…

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“From our home to yours, we wish you good health, calm spirits, creativity, and time shared with those you love in the coming year.”

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Arches National Park, Moab Utah, June 2014 Judy & Steve in the Arch following the long hike up!  Click photo to expand view…

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30th Wedding Anniversary, Cannon Beach, Oregon April 2014…Click photo to expand view…

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Mom, Marcella, Age 96, at Christmas 2014 opening gifts…  Click photo to expand view…

Click the Highlighted Text for More…links to past postings from our travels…

HaPpY NeW yEaR!                                                                  December, 2014

Wishing all of you Happy Holidays and a Happy 2015!  Hard to believe we’re already 15 years into the 21st Century.  2014 was a good year for us.  We celebrated our 30th anniversary in April and renewed our vows in Cannon Beach, Oregon.  We had a wonderful party for two, and enjoyed a few nights at the beach about 100 miles north of Depoe Bay. 

We never seem to tire of our life here on the Oregon Coast.  It was unusually great weather from July through September, so we enjoyed daily beach walks, looking for sea glass, and breathing fresh salt air when we weren’t playing golf.  I played with Agate Beach Women’s Golf Club this year and went to several Invitationals at other local courses this summer….really fun!  Steve was able to start playing by July, following another shoulder surgery in February.  We both worked to put on our Neighbors for Kids Charity annual golf tourney in late July, our nonprofit’s major fundraiser.  I played in a Ladies foursome of friends, and Steve sponsored and played with a group of local high school Golf Team stars.  We had a great day, enjoyed having Dan Fouts play with us again, and raised significant funds for NFK’s model afterschool program

We traveled stateside twice this year.  During May/June we traveled throughout the Southwest for a month.  Steve participated in the American Military Family Museum opening in Albuquerque, NM, and has since had his written work on children and families suffering from trauma archived through the museum.  We also visited with staff at the Vietnam Memorial Museum near Angel Fire, NM, and the Bataan Museum in Sante Fe.  We spent a week of quality time with the principals who founded the new museum in Albuquerque, a great group of high energy people we now call our friends.  We were welcomed and honored to be hosted by our new friends.

Steve spoke with a Veterans for Vets group in Pagosa Springs, Co, where we spent a week following our time in New Mexico.  We also loved soaking in the Pagosa Hot Springs.  Moab was another fun stop on our return trip home, hiking in Arches National Park.  We made it to the top!

During October we traveled to Long Beach (Lone Sailor Memorial) to attend our niece’s wedding on the Queen Mary and spent time with Steve’s sister Laura, her daughters and extended family.  We also saw close friends in San Diego and loved catching up, and stayed a few days on the beach near the Oceanside Pier.  We drove over to Palm Springs area for a few days to see my sister Joy and nephew Max, and more longtime friends.  So it was great to see everyone and enjoy some warm weather.  We saw Steve’s 96 year old Mother in Reno on our way home and old friends in the Bay Area.  We feel blessed!

Steve was elected as Depoe Bay City Councilor in November.  He’ll be sworn into office on January 6.  He’s spent the last few months doing due diligence and is ready to hit the ground running next month!  Needless to say, we’ve really gotten to know many folks here, and we both enjoy being engaged in the community.

I’ll continue my volunteer work at Neighbors for Kids as their Family Literacy Coordinator.  We host a monthly Family Night, focusing on building literacy skills and offering learning opportunities connected with our STEAM programs (science, technology, engineering, art and math).  We serve a meal and offer fun activities parents can share with their children.  Our events have grown this year so our outreach to families seems to be catching on.  We have willing community partners that want to see our kids succeed, and our programs are a positive addition to our local public schools. Like many places, education funding is an ongoing struggle here, so it’s cool to be able to help children in our own community.

We enjoyed Christmas with Sarah and her boyfriend, Ron…….oh, and of course our grand dog Skai!  They were with us the 24th – 26th.  Sarah is in transition and plans to work in her field, case management or child behavior management, in Portland after the first of the year.  We’re happy she’s not too far away.  Steve’s older daughters and their families live in Southern California and Minneapolis, MN, so we don’t see our grandkids as often as we’d like.  They’re almost all young adults now! Ages 21, 20, 19 and 14.

From our home to yours, we wish you good health, calm spirits, creativity, and time shared with those you love in the coming year.

 Steve & Judy Sparks, Depoe Bay, Oregon

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…

Oceanside

Gorgeous Sunset at Oceanside, Ca. October 2014…Don’t miss the rare capture of Sea Gull in photo!

 

Museum of the American Military Family, Albuquerque, New Mexico…Steve & Judy Sparks interview podcast during the “Sacrifice and Service” exhibit on May 31, 2014…

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Museum of the American Military Family, “Sacrifice and Service” Exhibit… Click image for larger view…

“Together We Served”…Steve & Judy Sparks interview with Circe Woessner, Executive Director, Museum of the American Military Family, Albuquerque, New Mexico…click highlighted text for podcast…

Images of Museum of the American Military Family…click highlighted text…

Included in the above “images” link is an image of a post card from my father, Vernon, sent home to St. Paul in 1936 when serving on his first ship, the USS Tennessee… click the highlighted text…  Dad was age 17 when he joined the US Navy in 1936.  He retired in 1958 following 22 years of service, including WWII and Korean War…

 

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Dad’s post card sent home in 1936. Click image for larger view…

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Front of post card photo of USS Tennessee 1936… Click image for larger view…

Museum of the American Military Family Quote from this website…click highlighted text…

“The Museum of the American Military Family and Learning Center brings together people with shared experiences showcasing and honoring those who also served—American’s Military Families. The Museum is gathering artifacts and recollections from American military families who served through war and peace in past decades and those who serve today in anticipation of the creation of a permanent facility in Albuquerque that will celebrate their lives and sacrifices for generations to come. For more information, please visit www.museumoftheamericanmilitaryfamily.org. For more information on the exhibition, visit www.nuclearmuseum.org…”

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Judy and I were very honored to participate recently during the opening ceremony of the Museum of the American Military Family, “Sacrifice and Service” exhibit in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  The interview podcast was recorded just before the start of my book reading for Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Judy and I were asked to talk briefly about intergenerational PTSD, often a lifetime challenge for the children and families of warriors.  The interview was a conversation about my experience as a military child of a father who served in hard combat, and my family’s journey of healing in life after trauma.

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation, A Son’s Story

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Book cover photos include my father, Vernon, and mother, Marcella c1940…and the USS West Virginia bombed in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941… Dad was aboard ship on that Sunday morning long ago…and survived. Click image for larger view…

May 26: Sacrifice & Service: The American Military Family Exhibit opens Memorial Day in Albuquerque…

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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The military family serves too!

Museum of the American Military Family…”We Served Too…”  Quote from this website… “Through this exhibit, the community can see history through a different filter, relive their own military roots, open dialogue between generations, and leave with a deeper appreciation of what it means to serve as a military family. This is an opportunity for visitors to experience a unique part of history, their history, in many cases — their complete story–the joy and pain, the sorrow, and the sacrifice…”

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National Museum of Nuclear Science & History…  Quoting from this website…

“Sacrifice & Service: The American Military Family” is a special exhibit that will open Memorial Day, May 26, and run through August 31 at the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History.

This inspiring exhibition celebrates America’s rich military history through the voices of America’s military families. Through written word and interactive elements, visitors will experience the joy, the sorrow and the sacrifice of America’s steadfast and unsung heroes, the military family.

There is no additional admission cost to view the exhibit beyond regular Museum admission; $8 for adults and $7 for youth and seniors.

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I am honored as a former US Navy military child and Vietnam era veteran, to participate in the Museum of the American Military Family Memorial Day exhibit “Sacrifice and Service.”  My story as a child of a US Navy WWII and Korean War combat veteran is painful.  America’s combat veterans from all wars up to and including Vietnam were from the “go home and forget about it” and “suck it up” culture.  Not because we wanted to ignore the moral injury and invisible wounds of war sustained by American soldiers and sailors who protected the freedoms of Americans, it was because we were ignorant of the lasting emotional damage in life after war.  Medical science did not define or measure the mental health effects of war until around 1980 following the Vietnam War.  Until recently we did not recognize how war affected the entire military family, especially children, often for a lifetime. 

“We served too” has a special meaning to me.   I am proud of my father’s honorable and heroic service during WWII and the Korean War.  I am proud to have been a military child from a US Navy family where my mother served too as a single mom during all WWII and as the life long caregiver for my father.  I am proud to have served in the US Navy during the Vietnam era.  And, I am especially proud to be an American.   I am also now well aware of how war affects the bodies, minds and souls of warriors like my father, including the families, who served America with honor, duty and pride.  I am especially aware of how the American military family served as caregivers to the men and women who returned home following long and multiple deployments in hard combat.  It is with this knowledge and awareness that my own journey of healing includes helping others become educated on the lingering effects and on-going treatment of moral injury and Post-Traumatic Stress on the military family.

I am looking forward to a full schedule of book readings, discussions, and interaction with visitors attending the Museum of the American Military Family “Sacrifice and Service” exhibit on May 31st and June 1st at the Museum of Nuclear Science and History in Albuquerque.   It is a high honor and privilege to share my personal experience and body of work to help others know more of their own family’s proud but sometimes painful military history and service to America…

As a gift to the Museum of the American Military Family and the upcoming “Sacrifice and Service” exhibit, following is a short poem reflecting heartfelt thoughts about my post WWII and Korean War experience as a US Navy military child.  “We served too!”

Steve10

Steve Sparks, 1956, age 10…click to expand photo…

Mother always told Dad we were bad while he was away at sea.

We were safe and free when Dad sailed away.

Fear and beatings made us cry you see…

Mother seemed happier when Dad was away at sea.

With love, joy, and play,

Dreams of family all together forever.

The fear and beatings came again anyway…

By Steve Sparks 

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

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A post WWII family's struggle with moral injury and PTSD

Photos on cover of Vernon and Marcella Sparks c1940 and the USS West Virginia in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor…

 

 

 

April is the month of the military child… Remember the sacrifice of the children of warriors who served too!

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

Month of the military child…  click on this link…

Meet Skyler, a military child…click on video clip here…

Army wife resource of the week…click on video clip here…

Published on Mar 27, 2014

” A Backpack Journalist ™ helps youth find their “VOICE” Building Resiliency through Creative Expression! Creating the Citizen Journalist of the future! This is a fabulous resource for our military kids and teens!”

Month of the military child post from 2013… by Steve Sparks

Military Children often live and cope with PTSD.  April is the month of the military child…

Celebrate the Month of the Military Child at MilitaryKidsConnect.org
MilitaryKidsConnect.org invites all military parents to spend quality time with their children this month at MilitaryKidsConnect.org, the only Department of Defense web site dedicated to the psychological health of military kids.

http://www.monthofthemilitarychild.com/

Anonymous said…  “I just came across this site..  I’m only 16 but my mom has suffered from PTSD my entire life. I had to “be the  parent” at 7, and am constantly switching roles between the child and the adult.  There should be more sites like this that offer support, but I can”t seem to  find any.”

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In this link, Military Kids with PTSD, I posted about my own observations and experience as a military child growing up with parents who suffered severely from the symptoms of PTSD.  As a military parent please take extra time to focus on your children.  Use not only this month of April…http://www.monthofthemilitarychild.com/, but take your awareness forward and help your kids understand how war affects families of combat veterans, especially children.  Use the resources to educate your kids with love and kindness.  Do not allow them to grow up feeling isolated and alone with the memories that are often painful and misunderstood.  As a parent or teacher you can make a huge difference in the lives of your kids on this critical issue.  We owe it to our children to give them the opportunity to grow up to live a healthy, happy, and productive life…

Steve10

Reflections of Post WWII Military Family Life…Steve Sparks 1956, age 10…

Mother always told Dad we were bad while he was away at sea.

We were safe and free when Dad sailed away.

Fear and beatings made us cry you see…

Mother seemed happier when Dad was away at sea.

With love, joy, and play,

Dreams of family all together forever.

The fear and beatings came again anyway…

By Steve Sparks 

Copyright  Protected 2013 by Steve Sparks.  All rights reserved… Children and Families in Life after Trauma… www.survivethriveptsd.com and Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

 

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