Tag Archives: Post WWII moral injury

National Child Abuse Prevention Month of April…

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Never EVER speak to your children in a way that you wouldn’t want to be spoken to. No matter how irritated you get or exhausted you are…

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Pinwheels for Prevention…

 

Prevent Child Abuse…  Quote from this website…

Take action to support healthy child development and help prevent child abuse and neglect in both big ways and small. Whether you donate to Prevent Child Abuse America, participate in one of our fundraising events, or join us by contacting your local office, your contribution makes a difference.

What can you do right now? Anything you do to support kids and parents can help reduce the isolation and stress that often leads to abuse and neglect.

Be a friend to a parent you know. Ask how their children are doing. Draw on your own experiences to provide reassurance and support. If a parent seems to be struggling, offer to baby-sit or run errands, or just lend a friendly ear. Show you understand.

Be a friend to a child you know. Remember their names. Smile when you talk with them. Ask them about their day at school. Send them a card in the mail. Show you care.

Talk to your neighbors about looking out for one another’s children. Encourage a supportive spirit among parents in your apartment building or on your block. Show that you are involved.

Give your used clothing, furniture and toys for use by another family. This can help relieve the stress of financial burdens that parents sometimes take out on their kids.

Volunteer your time and money for programs in your community that support children and families, such as parent support groups, child care centers, and our state chapters and local Healthy Families America sites.

Advocate for public policies, innovative programs and issues that benefit children and families.

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The sad and crying little boy in the photo above reminded me vividly of the scary times during my own childhood during the 1950’s and early 1960’s.  Our family was torn apart by my father’s military experience during WWII and the Korean War.  As kids we lived in fear constantly.  We were scared of Dad because he was angry and often violent, especially when self medicated.  We were scared that Mom would be hurt, and worried that she was anxious and nervous all the time.   She yelled and screamed at us siblings as a daily norm…suggesting that we were at the root of all the trouble.  I think all of us wondered what it would be like to be happy and joyful…  We were at times afraid of each other because we became angry living in a highly toxic home circumstance…fighting with each other was a way to relieve stress and vent.  We couldn’t wait to get out of the house for school and play.  And we hated to come back home.

My description of our troubled family dynamic could be duplicated in thousands of homes in America at that time and today in the 21st Century.  The one thing different today that makes a difference is awareness, but we have a long way to go.  The stigma of mental health is strong motivation for children and families to be quiet about what happens at home, and suffer in silence.  Worse yet is that without mitigation or treatment all the emotional baggage sticks around with those who are abused for the next generation…the cycle of pain continues until the pattern of abuse is broken…

The best we can do to help abused children and stop the violence at home is to be vigilant.  As good Samaritans we must not ignore what we see as wrong doing.  All too often during my childhood, there was no place to go to be safe, no one to talk to, and worse we had the feeling no one else cared, even other relatives and family members…friends would stay away too.  Our teachers and coaches didn’t even know… We were silent for fear of the terrible consequences of telling anyone.

Heightened awareness today allows us to freely help as friends and neighbors, and a community as a whole.  Reporting is mandatory in schools and we are trained for intervention.  It is not difficult to recognize a child or a family needing help…  We can reach out and ask for help for ourselves and others in appropriate ways.  The trained mental health professionals and programs available are far more effective today than in the 20th Century.  By becoming educated and aware of child abuse and domestic violence, you can save the life of a child or even help an entire family receive the help needed to start the healing process.  Take a look at the references and resources provided in this blog post and get engaged in your own community doing your part to stop child abuse…

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, and purchase my book(s) as part of your awareness campaign and support in preventing child abuse and domestic violence…

The U. S. Navy’s “Phantom” World War II Hospitals… Where combat weary veterans recuperated and transitioned…coming home…

U. S. Naval Hospital, Shoemaker, California (Photo source: NARA, College Park, MD)

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Click for larger view of Shoemaker US Naval Hospital…

 

“Originally designated “U. S. Naval Hospital, Pleasanton, California”, this 2000 bed hospital sprung up in a vast area of flat land a few miles east of the Oakland Hills of the San Francisco Bay Area. Originally intended to care for people attached to the nearby Construction Battalion Personnel Depot and a Navy Personnel Center, the hospital had 1,000 beds when it was commissioned 1 October 1943. Less than a year later, it had 2,000 official beds, but was capable of caring for nearly 3,600.  Post-war demobilization struck quickly, and the hospital was decommissioned 30 June 1946.”

Post WWII Psychiatric Diagnosis and Treatment for Combat Veterans….  Quote from this website article by Defense Media Network…

“Commonly used therapies in VA hospitals (i.e., US Naval Hospital Shoemaker) during early post WWII years were shock treatments – insulin and electric. Insulin shock was induced when patients received large doses of insulin over a period of weeks, causing daily comas that supposedly would shock the patient’s system out of mental illness.  Electric shock operated on a similar principle of disordering the mind and jolting the veteran out of his emotional distress by electrodes sending electric currents to the brain.”

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My father, Vernon, along with tens of thousands of combat weary veterans came home in 1945, the end of WWII, 70 years ago.  Coming home was not always a celebration for many who were injured physically and emotionally.  Back then they considered “combat stress or battle fatique” to be as serious as being in a state of complete exhaustion and mental stress that required “recuperation.”  Like Dad, most who were considered in bad shape were sent to one of many “phantom”  WWII hospitals for weeks of treatment before being allowed to go home or to be visited by loved ones.  My mother, Marcella, spoke of this time as a very anxious and worrisome period of excitement for Dad’s return home, but fear about his physical and mental condition.  I recall her saying, “we didn’t get to celebrate like others when the war was over.”  This was a time long before medical and mental health science could clearly diagnose Post Traumatic Stress (PTS/PTSD) symptoms that lingered long after the war, often for a lifetime.  When a WWII veteran was actually diagnosed with a severe psychiatric condition, it was considered a non-service related mental health disorder…pre-existing.   Most combat veterans of that time refused to talk about their feelings and concluded it was a problem that would eventually go away.  We know differently now, especially following the Vietnam War.

My father finally decided to get help during the 1980’s when PTSD was officially diagnosed as a combat related mental disorder.  And the good news…he started to get better over time with medications and psychiatric treatment.  It was a more positive time for us as a family and Dad appeared to be on his way to some reasonable peace of mind before he passed away in 1998.  Unfortunately, by the time we were adults, most of the severe damage and dysfunction to our family was done.  It was not until later in my own life that I was able to reconcile what happened to us as a post WWII military family by researching and writing my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.

Knowing the truth about how war affects the children and families of warriors has given me peace of mind as well.  It is now my labor of love to write about recovering from traumatic life events and to help others learn how to begin the lifelong process of healing.  We discovered as a post WWII family, it is never too late to start the journey of healing…  All the bottled up emotional pain is pure agony until we started to talk about the symptoms and to seek appropriate alternative treatment strategies…  Healing remains a work in progress for most who suffer from a traumatic life event…

Now, 70 years after the end of WWII, we honor the “Greatest Generation” by helping and supporting veterans of all wars who suffer from combat trauma…  As Americans and human beings we are finally getting past the stigma and denial connected with mental health…but we have a long way to go…

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…

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Reconciliation: A Son’s Story by Steve Sparks, published November 2011…click the highlighted text for my author page…

 

Lost WWII Heroes Discovered in South Pacific…a profoundly healing legacy experience for loved ones…

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Heroes of Palau…

Palau…Searching for Heroes…  Click on this powerful video clip…worth all 13 minutes!

Published on Nov 7, 2014

“Passion meets technology in the search for downed aircraft in the South Pacific. The BentProp Project is a group of volunteers who search for and help repatriate missing World War II Airmen. Their searches were long and arduous until they enlisted the scientific know-how of Scripps Institution of Oceanography-UCSD and The University of Delaware. What they find is truly inspiring.”

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Watching this inspiring and beautiful video clip moved me deeply.  I know more now of the empathy and passion I feel each and every day about the sacrifice of veterans of all wars, especially the children and families who never find out what happened to their loved ones injured or lost to wars long ago…  Once learning about my own father’s experience in WWII and my family’s post war emotional challenges living and caring for Dad, I had no idea this would be the beginning of my own journey of healing.  Millions of children and families live with the trauma connected with war and the lifelong generational struggle of the inherent trauma and the loss of loved ones.  There is too often silence among family members who have a deep desire to find peace of mind, but just “suck it up” and move on without the benefits of healing. 

I hope this powerful story moves your family to find out more about fathers, mothers, and grandparents who sacrificed for the freedoms we enjoy in America.  You can start your own journey of healing and make a difference for others at the same time.  We owe this to ourselves and the legacy of war we honor to learn more and to help our nation heal in life after war…

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

“I was easy prey.” October is Month of Awareness for Domestic Violence!

 

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“Be a Kids Hero!” Click banner for larger view…

 

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“I was easy prey.” Her first memory of being sexually abused is when she was just four-years old…

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Ginger Kadlec… Impassioned child advocate. Enthusiastic dog and cat mommy. Proud aunt. Happy wife.

 

“I was easy prey…”  click on highlighted website article by Ginger Kadlec…  Quote from the article follows…

“He was close to my mother, he visited our family home,” Susan Crocombe recalls in an interview with Steve Harris of BBC Radio Solent’s Breakfast in Dorset 103.8 fm. “If mum was having a bad day, she would be in bed… so he had complete access to me. I actually loved him. I would have done anything for him.”

“He” was a member of Susan’s extended family who sexually abused her for years. She recalls, “Things he did became quite serious 18 months leading up to my 13th birthday,” at which point her molester began feeding his addiction by sharing her with other adults, including taking photographs of and filming her.

“I associated presents with rewards for being good. I was easy prey.”~Susan Crocombe

In this BBC Radio Solent interview, Susan reflects on the sexual abuse she endured as a child and the impact the abuse had on her as a teenager and adult. She discusses issues like being groomed and says, “Who doesn’t like to feel special to get gifts, presents, be validated? For me, it was very subtle. I was very young, so I didn’t know what was happening was wrong… I associated presents with rewards for being good. I was easy prey.”

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In my view, the above reference is absolutely the worst case scenario and tragedy connected with domestic violence and child abuse!  I lived in a highly toxic home while growing up in the 1950’s and early 1960’s.  The vivid memories of being scared and living with domestic violence still haunts me at times.  My home was affected by the hard combat trauma my father experienced during all of WWII and deployment during the Korean War.  We did not have any kind of domestic violence awareness during the post WWII era…let alone a month like October designated to help children and families become more aware of its seriousness, long term impact on mental health, and ways to get help.  We siblings, as military kids, felt scared and alone most of the time.  We were afraid to go home when Dad was home for fear of the next beating that could come our way or the threatening emotional outbursts that often came out of nowhere as Dad struggled with his own demons.  Mother was affected severely as a wartime military spouse and from her own traumatic childhood during the “depression era.”  Our entire family was emotionally damaged and we thought it was just normal and mostly our fault as kids for not being good.  What happened in our home stayed at home.  From all appearances our family behaved as normal adults and kids outside of the home and in school.  We would not dare speak of being scared to go home…  Dad was a WWII US Navy hero by day and an angry and dangerous man by night.

Thousands of families were toxic like ours during this post WWII era, but we didn’t know it until later in life when the topic of combat related PTSD was finally revealed and understood more clearly.  But the stigma of mental health challenges and the intergenerational effects of post trauma symptoms referred to as secondary PTSD or complex PTSD kept countless children and families from seeking help.  The stigma of PTSD remains a big challenge to this day!

I lived with the emotional baggage of child abuse and domestic violence until later in life while doing research on our post WWII family’s toxic culture and the how war affects the mental health of soldiers and sailors long after the war ends.  Writing my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story, was finally the beginning of my own journey of healing at age 64, and I am not alone… If it had not been for the gift of awareness, I would still be living with emotional pain.  It is a joy to look forward to each day now with peace of mind.   The anger, depression, and anxiety tearing away at my heart and soul is now gone, but is a work in progress to keep the pain of past trauma at a safe distance.  I am very blessed and thankful for the work of Ginger Kadlec  and many others in the mental health community for building awareness through social media.  I am also grateful for the support of my family and friends who help keep me grounded with positive energy each and every day…

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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Steve Sparks, Age 10, 1956…

Healing from Moral Injury…Context of Spirituality by Steve Sparks…

A Discussion of Moral Injury and Spiritual Context… Quote from this website article from the National Center for PTSD…click highlighted text for more…

Moral Injury in the Context of War

Shira Maguen, PhD and Brett Litz, PhD

What is moral injury?

Like psychological trauma, moral injury is a construct that describes extreme and unprecedented life experience including the harmful aftermath of exposure to such events. Events are considered morally injurious if they “transgress deeply held moral beliefs and expectations” (1). Thus, the key precondition for moral injury is an act of transgression, which shatters moral and ethical expectations that are rooted in religious or spiritual beliefs, or culture-based, organizational, and group-based rules about fairness, the value of life, and so forth.

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Comments by Steve Sparks posted in MILITARY MENTAL HEALTH DISORDERS POST DEPLOYMENT FOR PROVIDERS, COMBAT VETERANS & THEIR FAMILIES 

“The context of spirituality is profoundly critical to a trauma victim…a case of right vs. wrong. Combat veterans are often morally injured or compromised while experiencing or engaged in hard combat. The post trauma symptoms of PTSD represent a normal reaction of the mind fighting against the horrors and inhuman circumstances of war…killing and carnage. Trauma victims can choose a path of healing by acknowledging the roots of moral injury with alternative treatment strategies sooner than later…awareness is the first step in healing. Denial of ones spiritual and moral reality as a human being will only keep the emotional pain bottled up inside revealing itself with the painful symptoms of PTSD…for a lifetime if not treated. The higher risk of denial is the adverse affect on the children and families of warriors…secondary and complex PTSD in loved ones living with a trauma victim or the case of intergenerational PTSD. The sad tragedy of the horrors of war on humans is how it damages the moral fabric of society for generations.”

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…

Sir Patrick Stewart’s Story Inspires Trauma Survivors to Make a Difference…

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Sir Patrick Stewart…photo by — Nino Munoz

Finding a Light in the Darkness… Sir Patrick Stewart “banished his demons by fighting for battered women and veterans…by Meg Grant…

“Far from the heroic, self-assured characters he’s played — and the joyful person he is today — Stewart was for decades a man plagued by fear and stifled by rage. The roots of his struggle go back to a difficult childhood, marked by poverty and abuse that took him years to understand. Having only recently opened up about the trauma of his early years, he now behaves as a person liberated, and eager, finally, to step out and join the party.”

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When self-talk of being too old or who cares enters my mind at the prime age of 68, mentors like Sir Patrick Stewart, 73, come to my rescue.  I have written about Patrick Stewart in the past.  Patrick’s childhood was toxic (click highlighted text) in a post WWII culture of silence, secrecy, and pain.  He grew up in a home suffering from the symptoms of PTSD created by the trauma of his father’s WWII combat experience.

Patrick Stewart’s father  (click on highlighted text for video clip) was angry following WWII and was violent toward his mother…but did not abuse his children…  It was quite the opposite in my father’s case following WWII.  We siblings took the brunt of Dad’s anger for many years, especially during the “too terrible to remember 1950’s.”  My mother lived in fear of course, and the constant toxic conditions at home caused her to suffer terribly with secondary PTSD.  Mother still has flashbacks at age 96. 

Like many trauma survivors following WWII, years of silence, ignorance, and stigma attached to mental health issues caused the emotional pain to linger on for many years and even a lifetime.  Those survivors like Patrick Stewart discovered a career passion that kept the pain at a safe distance.  Eventually, once becoming aware of the roots of PTSD and alternative treatment strategies, thousands of trauma survivors like me, including Patrick Stewart, have been able to start our own path of healing by reaching out and making a difference for others.

Although a work in progress, it is possible for trauma survivors to achieve peace of mind and a joyful life even after many decades of emotional pain from the symptoms of PTSD.  I now feel blessed to have been able to confront my own demons in very healthy ways…  Please take a look at my archives and find a topic that gets your attention… To learn more about alternative treatment strategies click “Letting go of what you can’t change,” a recent post.

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