Archive for February, 2011

24
Feb

Being a teenager is an exciting time…more independence, time with friends, budding romances, new opportunities, and eventually, a driver’s license! Such freedom. But, adolescence can also be one of the most challenging times for young people, due to raging hormones, negative peer influences, bullying, greater academic challenges, peer pressure to use alcohol and street drugs, greater responsibility (sometimes holding down a part-time job or caring for younger siblings), and big life decisions (Will I go to college? Get a job? Go to a technical school). Did you also know that adolescence is also a time that young people are at risk for developing emotional problems such as depression and anxiety? It can be a stressful time!

Now…think about the additional challenges faced by our military teens. Their parent(s) may be deployed once, twice, or even multiple times, to a war zone. The parent may miss out on important events, such as prom, the school play, the state basketball tournament, and birthdays. Research is mounting showing that most teenagers are resilient – bolstered by support of the military, community, church, and relatives/family, most do well! They are inspirational and deserve our thanks. However, some teens are struggling, as research is showing increased rates of anxiety, sleeping problems, behavioral problems, and even use of mental health medications. What does this tell us? Although teens may be busy with their full schedule of school, work, extracurricular activities, and socializing, they are affected by their parent’s deployment.  We need to listen to them, provide resources, and make services available.

Due to the absence of resources specifically for teenagers, my mother (a teacher) and I have created two resources for military teens (in my personal life), including:

Finding My Way: A Teen’s Guide to Living with a Parent Who Has Experienced Trauma
Examines the teenager’s experience of having a parent who has endured trauma-ranging from military combat to domestic violence to 9/11 to natural disasters.  We are extremely honored that the National Guard is distributing it nationally as part of the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Program.

My Story: Blogs by Four Military Teens
(just released in late 2009)
A series of blogs which gives a voice to the teen experience before, during and after parental deployment to Iraq/Afghanistan

The mission of our books is to empower teens by:

*    Providing essential information
*    Normalizing a variety of reactions
*    Encouraging open communication
*    Supporting healthy coping
*    Offering comfort and hope

Our books are highly interactive, containing numerous activities, open-ended sentences, short stories depicting healthy coping, and opportunities for reflection. To learn more about our books and see sample pages, please see our website:

www.SeedsofHopeBooks.com

Although there are a few books on the market written for young children dealing with parental emotional problems or PTSD, the literature is relatively barren for teenagers. Thus, our work fills a major gap in the available literature.

Michelle Sherman, Ph.D. has committed her career to supporting families/youth affected by mental illness and trauma/PTSD. She directs the Family Mental Health Program at the Oklahoma City VA hospital, and is a clinical professor at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. She co-chaired the first American Psychological Association Presidential Task Force on Supporting our Military Families, and serves on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC).

Category : Uncategorized | Blog
18
Feb

A new biography of J.D. Salinger, the author of The Catcher in the Rye, has been published.  Unlike previous portraits of Salinger, J.D. Salinger: A Life by Kenneth Slawenski emphasizes Salinger’s World War II service in Europe where his division—the 4th Infantry—landed on Utah Beach on D-Day, fought across France and then at the Battle of the Bulge, and then liberated hundreds of Dachau’s subcamps scattered in the forests outside of Munich.

Slawenski sees the presence of Salinger’s war experiences in his stories “A Perfect Day for Bananafish” and “For Esme – with Love and Squalor.”  In both stories the protagonists suffer mental anguish from the war, anguish that their families ignore or trivialize. They don’t want to be bothered; they want to enjoy life.  In “For Esme – with Love and Squalor,” the sergeant’s brother asks for war souvenirs—“a couple of bayonets or swastikas—” for his kids, while the sergeant is struggling to stay alive. “He ached from head to foot, all zones of pain seemingly interdependent.  He was rather like a Christmas tree whose lights, wired in series, must all go out if even one bulb is defective.”  Seymour Glass of “A Perfect Day for Bananafish” ends up taking his own life.

The great majority of the many World War II veterans I have spoken with shared the experience of finding families and friends back home uninterested in hearing about the veterans’ pain, in hearing their horrible stories.  They all described to me how this indifference isolated them, intensified their feelings of disassociation and having no option than to go silent.

Even with all we have come to acknowledge since World War II about combat trauma, our society continues to deny its presence throughout our culture. This is evident in a review of J.D. Salinger: A Life.  David Ulin of the Los Angeles Times writes that Slawenski’s conclusion that Salinger witnessed a Nazi concentration camp is “conjecture.”  “Too much remains unknown.  It’s not just the war years, which clearly scarred the author; in July 1945, still I Germany, he checked himself into an Army hospital for treatment of what was probably post-traumatic stress disorder.  Indeed, it’s not a stretch to suggest, as Slawenski does, that Salinger’s time in battle rendered him fatalistic and had a lot to do with the direction of his later work.”

“Not a stretch?”  I’d say it’s clear as a day after a cold front that being in the D-Day invasion, fighting at the Bulge, being anywhere near a subcamp of Dachau traumatized Salinger.  Fatalistic?  Strange word to use.  I can think of many words to describe the effects of trauma, but “fatalistic” wouldn’t be one of them.  And “later work?”  How about what he wrote in the years right after the war?

Ulin criticizes Slawenski for not having proof positive of Salinger’s experiences.  I’d say Slawenski does.  And I’d say it’s time we stop pretending that war—any war—doesn’t disfigure the souls of its participants. Salinger was lucky; he found a way to process his experience and speak his truths.  It’s also clear he knew we would resist hearing them.

Category : Uncategorized | Blog
9
Feb

Steve was a Senior Vice President in sales at a pharmaceutical company. He was always calm and centered. People loved to work with him because of his easy manner. He had been through enough in his life that being in a safe setting where the most he had to battle was the morning traffic and competitors prices was a piece of cake.
Steve wanted nothing more than a good job, a loving family, and time to play golf. He had all that. He also felt he had handled coming back from the tensions of a war zone to the security of his suburban life with great ease. Life, as he told me, was good.
I was asked to be his executive coach. He wanted another perspective about who was ready for promotion and how to talk with those who would be left behind. His questions were smart and his manner direct. He was wonderful to work with.
Then one day I received an emergency call. That was not Steve’s way. Emergencies did not exist in his world. His voice was shaky and he was on the verge of tears.

Here is what happened:  The company was in the midst of a major re-organization and the entire sales team, hundreds of people, had gathered to hear about the new work design. Steve left shaken and confused. He felt sick and agitated. Yet, this was not such a big deal.
All that had happened was some folks would be in different business units and some would have the opportunity to relocate; nothing to get that upset about.
Yet, here he was back at home unable to concentrate, unable to eat or sleep. He told me he thought he was losing his mind, and over what, a reorg?
I asked him to search back to another time when he had these same disorienting feelings and within a few minutes Steve, big, strong Steve was sobbing.
“I got it” he managed to say between great big gulps of air. “This took me back to my time in in the military. I was put in charge of my men and I promised to take care of them, that no one would be harmed. Kinda stupid, huh, since I could not really promise that. Anyway, three of my men didn’t make it and I kept thinking it was my fault.”
He stopped, lost in his memories. When I asked how that impacted his sales meeting he became silent. I waited. Then he said “Wow, Sylvia, I thought I had packed all those feelings away. At the meeting lots of my direct reports kept coming up to me and with a pleading look in their eyes said ‘Please, Steve, will you take care of me’. Some wanted to move others wanted a promise they could stay where they lived. I kept saying ‘Yeh, yeh’ knowing their fates were out of my hands.”
More silence. Then “I just connected the dots. I couldn’t keep my men in the war safe, so how the heck could I keep these folks safe. I felt like a big failure.”
I let Steve talk and talk. He told me about the war, the fear that had gone underground, the anger, the hurt, the disappointment. Then he began to cry, really cry. When he could finally hear me, I told him the tears were the part inside that had been frozen beginning to defrost.
When he was once more, calm, cool Steve, he shared with me the power of what he had just learned, that hidden feelings will come out eventually, there really is nowhere to hide.
Steve was instrumental in helping us create the “Total Leadership Connections” program that has at its foundation a section to look at, really look at what forms us: family, culture and crises. Hidden feelings are better when observed, understood and transformed, rather than left to fester in silence.
Sylvia Lafair, Ph.D., author of the award winning book, “Don’t Bring It to Work” and “Pattern Aware Success Guide”, is President of CEO, Creative Energy Options, Inc., a global consulting company focused on optimizing workplace relationships through extratordinary leadership. Dr. Lafair’s unique model has revolutionized the way teams cooperate, relate and innovate.
She can be reached at sylvia@ceoptions.com or 570-636-3858; www.sylvialafair.com

Category : Uncategorized | Blog
4
Feb

Since I held my book launch on January 20th, the days have turned into a blur. I went to Atlanta where I had the amazing opportunity to speak on CNN about how a soldier brings their trauma home after the war is over and how that trauma becomes the children’s inheritance. I also got to speak on how critical it is that veterans have the space and safety of speaking the truths they carry within them and how we civilians must be present to hear those truths.

Just days after the CNN interview, I had the humbling and exhilarating chance to experience the full truth of what I said about how speaking their truths enables veterans to heal. I spent four days at a Soldiers Heart retreat in the soft mountains of Georgia. Dr. Ed Tick and Kate Dahlstedt, the directors of Soldiers Heart, led a group of six veterans from the Viet Nam War, one from the Gulf War, and four veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through a ceremony of coming home. Eight civilians welcomed and accompanied them during those days, provided a safe environment in which the veterans could open up and tell their stories and the civilians could received and agree to own the stories. We were there to own the suffering of our veterans, because as Dr. Tick writes in War and the Soul, “Society disowns the suffering war creates for soldiers, and the abandonment of them is as much a cause of PTSD as is the war itself.” We surrounded the veterans with our presence and absorbed their stories so that their memories can become collective rather than personal. That makes it possible for them to recover their souls.
Before the weekend, I thought I was able to imagine war. I thought I had a good enough imagination, aided by all the war movies I’ve seen, all the books I’ve read. And most of all by all the interviews I’ve done of WWII veterans.
But during those four days, I learned how all that enabled me only to imagine the surface of what our veterans have lived and now carry.
When a veteran sits present among fellow veterans within such a community, he or she will tell stories of a whole other depth than when they are by themselves.
Many of the men and women spoke of shame, of deep shame and fear that the civilians present would see them as monsters if they revealed the truth of what they had done or had desired to do. They often spoke the words “monster” and “beast-“ the part of themselves war gave birth to or revealed that now causes profound feelings of self-loathing, even while that part still feels powerful and seductive.
The veterans needed assurance we would not turn away from them after such truth. And how could they know we wouldn’t? Their courage as much as their pain opened my heart.
In telling their stories, in hearing us civilians vow to hold their stories in our hearts as our own stories, the veterans began leaving the wilderland that war exiles soldiers to after it breaks their hearts and souls. Seeing our faces and ears take in their stories of death and loss and anguish, these men and women re-entered community and saw the possibility of purification, atonement, reconciliation. The transformation in their faces from Thursday evening to Sunday afternoon astounded me. One veteran said, “I am leaving with hope. On Thursday I wanted to bolt; I thought none of you could possibly understand. But now you are family. And I feel I might still be alive.”
All our veterans need the experience of this veteran. All civilians need to have the experience I and the other non-veterans did. To begin healing the wounds that occur in our name. May all our soldiers and veterans know such healing.

Category : Uncategorized | Blog
فروشگاه اینترنتی خرید ساعت مچی ساعت مچی مردانه ساعت مچی زنانه قهوه نسکافه