“SHOUT: Sharing Our Truth: An Anthology of Writings by LGBT Veterans and Family Members of the U.S. Military Services”

MAMF Special Projects Writer Caroline LeBlanc is seeking stories for:

SHOUT: Sharing Our Truth: An Anthology of Writings by LGBT Veterans and Family Members of the U.S. Military Services”

This anthology seeks first-hand experiences—good, bad, and in between—as an LGBT veteran or family member, during and/or after military service. Our goal is to create a book that will allow you to tell parts of your story that will also be helpful for others to read—others who live or want to understand the LGBT veteran experience. The last chapter of the book will list resources available to LGBT veterans.

Do not submit any materials previously published in print or online. Identifying information should be included in the body of the email only.

What Genres to Submit:

Fiction: up to 1200 words.

Non-Fiction (memoir, essays, and other non-fiction): up to 1200 words

Poetry: up to 40 lines.

Reviews: up to 1200 words about a movie, book, music, etc. that you think are important for others to know about.

Resources: submit information on resources you have found particularly helpful. (Name, webpage, telephone number, and services)

 You may submit up to 2 pieces in each genre. Each piece must be attached in a separate file. All pieces in a given category must be submitted in the same email. Pieces in separate categories must be submitted in separate emails.

Submissions are accepted between March 20 and June 20, 2016. For more information or for guidelines on how to submit, please visit:

 our projects website





The Museum of the American Military Family is compiling stories for a book reflecting on war…


Attention New Mexicans, who are serving in the military, are military veterans, are members of a military family, and would like to write about your experience in that capacity…

 Paul Zolbrod, Writer-in-Residence for the Albuquerque-based Museum of the American Military Family is seeking stories for its anthology “From the Front Line to the Home Front: New Mexicans Reflect on War.”

This anthology will include first-hand stories from all perspectives—service members, family members and friends who share their perspectives and experiences. Submissions can be about the recent Middle East campaigns, Vietnam, the Korean War era or World War II—and everything in between. All branches and ranks of the military should be represented.

How you can contribute:

Your story can be as long or as short as you choose. Just make it heartfelt, honest and interesting. We are looking for stories of trial and triumph and loss, stories that demonstrate the warmth and humor of military family life along with its inevitable tensions, offbeat stories that illustrate the variety that accompanies military life in war times–in other words– anything you want to tell of.

You don’t have to consider yourself an accomplished writer to participate. We will provide editorial services to sharpen your contribution.

The book will be arranged by stories of:

  • Pre-deployment,
  • Deployment
  • Post-deployment
  • Legacy & Aftermath

For more information or to submit a story, please e-mail Writer-in-Residence Paul Zolbrod at mamfwriter@gmail.com.

The deadline for submissions is April 30, 2016. Tentative publication date is scheduled for the fall. All stories become part of the Museum of the American Military Family Special Collection Library.



Raising Awareness about PTSD

Nursing’s Role in PTSD Treatment

Today it is critical for all nurses to understand the signs and symptoms of PTSD. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), only about half of PTSD patients are receiving minimally adequate treatment. Active and retired military servicemembers make up the majority of PTSD cases and these patients lack access to the medical care they’ve been promised by the U.S. government.

For this reason, in an effort to raise awareness of PTSD and the fresh challenges it poses to all care providers, the American Nurses Association (ANA) has partnered with six major national nursing organizations to promote a new campaign called Joining Forces. The national initiative, led by the White House and First Lady Michelle Obama, invites all nurses to make a pledge to educate themselves on PTSD and to provide the highest-quality care to military servicemembers, veterans and their families.

Please remember that post-traumatic stress disorder can affect anyone; this guide, along with the support of your healthcare provider, is intended to help you begin to understand, recognize, and cope with PTSD.

RNtoBSN.org has recently launched a resource to help raise public awareness about PTSD; it discusses the nurse’s role in the treatment of PTSD, its different clinical classifications, identification of symptoms, myths, facts and the different treatments and best practices. The full article can be found here.



Braving the Storm: Northhampton VA Hospital

Until the blizzard hits on the Mass Pike,

the four hour drive north to visit you goes well

Packed in the VW, the kids and I play games,

vote to continue to brave the storm

Remove your watch. Place your house keys,wallet and comb on the desk. Sit. Unwind.


I’ll say the coaches asked for you at the awards

banquet , won’t mention that the boys punching upset the trophy table before dinner was served.

You’ll see them play next winter.

Place your clothes in the sack. Put on paper slippers. Hand over your car keys. Keep the coins.


Don’t have money to buy our daughter a prom corsage,

to dryclean your sister’s borrowed gown

and lacy shawl. Sandals won’t show

in the photos your mother will send you.

Lock your belt and laces with your meds and shoes. Pee now.


West of Worcester the storm worsens,

the frightened the kids and I guess

the meaning of good tours, war-games, outward bound, locked wards.

 Remove your dog tag flashbacks. Tuck them with your nightmares under your pillow. About face.

Jacqueline Murray Loring


This poem was featured in the Museum’s 2014 exhibit: Sacrifice & Service: The American Military Family

Read more about the author here.




The Warrior Canine Connection

by Meg Daley Olmert, Director of Research                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Warrior Canine Connection, Inc. 

Screen Shot 2014-06-21 at 11.39.19 AMThe Warrior Canine Connection (WCC) employs the positive, nurturing social interactions of training service dogs to reduce the symptoms of PTS(D) in active-duty Service Members (SMs) in treatment at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC), Fort Belvoir, and SMs and Veterans with PTS(D) at the Palo Alto VA.  Our dogs are trained by these Warrior-trainers to be skilled mobility service dogs that will be placed–at no cost–with Veterans in need.

This safe, natural, and highly effective complementary intervention was developed by social worker Rick Yount and clinically based on his decades of experience working with traumatized children the West Virginia foster care program.  I am attaching an article we published about the program in the Army Medical Journal (AMEDD).  You will see that our emphasis is to treat not just SMs & Veterans, but their whole families that suffer secondary PTS.

The beauty of the program design is that the Warrior Ethos inspires even those who have resisted treatment to engage in this vital mission of creating a service dog for a fellow wounded Warrior.

The actual shaping of the behavior of young dogs requires the same commitment, focus, and positive leadership skills that are the basis of good parenting.This provides a non-threatening experiential learning opportunity to:

–improve parenting and family communication that can save at-risk marriages

–stop the intergenerational transfer of PTSD to children of wounded Warriors

— keep military families together and provide the social support essential to recovery of our wounded Warriors. Read the rest of this entry »

Suicide on the homefront in military families

25Code of Support Executive Director, Kristy Kaufmann, has been a leading voice in the fight not only to track suicides among military family members, but to increase the mental health support they so desperately need.

 While many military families are thriving, there are far too many others who are struggling in silence – who feel like they don’t matter. We must have the strength to have this conversation out loud. Only then can we find solutions.

 We hope you’ll take a few minutes to read Kristy’s op-ed, and reach out to us at info@codeofsupport.org to learn how you can help.

 Suicide on the homefront in military families

By Kristina Kaufmann
 updated 5:55 PM EDT, Wed March 12, 2014 CNN.com

Editor’s note: Kristina Kaufmann is executive director of the Code of Support Foundation, which tries to bridge the gap between military and civilian communities.

(CNN) — When I married a soldier in June 2001, I knew my life was going to change. I moved from Berkeley, California, to Fort Sill, Oklahoma — talk about a culture shock. But I was in love, and enthusiastically dove head first into a military life I knew nothing about.

And then 9/11 happened, and my husband went to war. And then he went again, and again … and again.

After more than 12 years of sustained war and multiple deployments borne by less than 1% of the population, we now have an entire generation of military families that know nothing but war. And war comes home. I’ve known three Army wives who’ve taken their own lives.

Although we’re certainly not the first generation of military families to deal with the aftermath of war — there’s simply no precedent for how repeated deployments have affected the mental health of military spouses, children, parents and siblings. It’s like living in a continuous state of emergency for more than a decade and never being able to fully exhale in relief. As soon as your soldier comes home, you’re just counting down the days until he or she leaves and returns to the battlefield.

What is wars’ true toll on the spouses and children? Read the rest of this entry »

First Press Release About our Upcoming Exhibit in May 2014

Sacrifice & Service

Many children are exposed to traumatic life events… Parents need to be more aware of the consequences affecting their own children in life after trauma…


Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my book, 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

Read the rest of this entry »

The gift of finding peace of mind… Happy Birthday, Dad! My gift to you on this day is forgiveness and healing…

by   Steve Sparks,  Author of Reconciliation: A Son’s Story  

         I used to hate the thought of calling my Dad on his birthday.  I really didn’t see the point of saying “Happy Birthday” to someone who was perceived as an SOB.  I would rather celebrate his birthday by feeling the gift of freedom from his sphere of control and the chains of bondage…  Let’s all face it, my father’s behaviors were unacceptable and abusive toward loved ones, both emotionally and physically.  None of us really understood PTSD during our childhood and most of our adult life for that matter.  I spent my time trying to distance myself from Dad as a child and adult proving to him that I would not fail as his son; rather I would succeed beyond anybody’s dreams.  Although I was able to prove this to Dad before he passed away, it really didn’t feel very good.  It seemed like a no-win accomplishment.  We still had a rocky relationship and didn’t like each other.  I do believe there was a kinship of sorts tucked away somewhere that needed to be released.  That didn’t happen until years after Dad passed away in 1998.  My anger was so deep I did not attend his memorial service.
        It’s a new day!  I have a better relationship with Dad now than when he was alive.  I talk to him everyday through my work as an author and blogger.  I am completely free of anger toward my parents in general.  The painful knot in my gut has been gone for over two years now since writing my book, starting this blog, and speaking at book signing events and participating in forums…keeping the PTSD awareness conversation going.  If I had known what I know today about Dad’s severe emotional suffering from combat stress during WWII and the Korean War, we would have had a different relationship.  I know our life together would have been different but not easy.  The difference would have been understanding the roots of his behavior and how the invisible wounds of war damaged his heart and soul. Read the rest of this entry »

Pearl Harbor

by Steve Sparks


“Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. A small boat rescues a seaman from the 31,800 ton USS West Virginia (BB-48), which is burning in the foreground. Smoke rolling out amidships shows where the most extensive damage occurred. Note the two men in the superstructure. The USS Tennessee (BB-43) is inboard.”
Date 7 December 1941 photo: Wikipedia

Honoring my father and his shipmates who were aboard the USS West Virginia (BB48) on the morning of December 7, 1941…Also honoring the spouses, family members, and loved ones who waited for many weeks to learn of the fate all those who served America on that fateful day…

My Dad’s own account of what happened on that fateful Sunday morning, December 7, 1941…

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 portside 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, Captain 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:

Sparks, Vernon H.       328-41-29     Cox.        13   Jan. 36   10/12/39

USS West Virginia (BB48) 2013 Reunion…  Click on this website for update…

The heroes who have passed away since the 2012 reunion..

Alton Wiggs

Walter Christiansen

Scott Coulson

Howard Gist

Leonard Gilbert

Virgil Reeve

Harold Lacy

George Geci

James W. King

Sylvester Puccio

Adolph Krenn

Bernard Brown

John Holt

Louis Balbinot

Robert Christy

Stanley Idzerda

Ed Matlock

Richard Robinson

Author’s note…My Dad, Vernon, passed away in 1998 at age 79.  I have faith that he knows his son did write the book he thought should be written…”People like myself could go on & on…but that would take a book…”  Dad served America with honor and pride for all of his adult life and career including the US Navy for 22 years, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons for 18 years before retiring.  Dad’s US Navy service included combat duty for all of WWII in the Asiatic Pacific Theater, and almost a year during the Korean War.  My father is a symbol of the countless numbers of veterans of all wars and the families who served too…  We honor veterans and military families every day of the year.  They paid a huge price for the freedoms we enjoy in America and around the world to this day…  We shall never forget the sacrifices and the debt that can never be repaid…

Steve Sparks

Families Living with PTSD and Moral Injury…Please support mission by ordering my book. This is a soul-healing forum for families who are or have lived in a home with a parent or loved one who served in direct combat or experienced traumatic events. Children in particular are at the highest risk of mental and physical abuse resulting from the legacy of war. Please support my mission by ordering my book…