Tag Archives: PTS/PTSD

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…