Welcome to United Children of Veterans. I’m glad you’re here. My name is Christal Presley, and my goal is to educate the public about how children can be affected by a father’s or mother’s war experience. Thirty Days with My Father: Finding Peace from Wartime PTSD is my personal story of the devastating effects the Vietnam War had on my family when my father returned home with PTSD. I never understood the war–or my father. It would be 30 years before I felt brave enough to ask for his story. It was only then that I began to heal.
I’d be honored if you’d join our Facebook community and check out the blog entries below.
Tim O’Brien, Vietnam veteran, and author of The Things They Carried, once wrote: “Stories are for joining the past to the future. Stories are for those late hours in the night when you can’t remember how you got from where you were to where you are. Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except the story.”
I believe stories can change the world. I always have and I always will. As a child, reading and writing saved my life. It’s why I became an English teacher. It’s why I wrote Thirty Days with My Father: Finding Peace from Wartime PTSD. I believe stories have the power to help us face our truths, to make us better understand each other, and to teach us the morality by which to live.
Stories can make the unseen seen. They can make the intangible tangible, the general specific. They can strike a chord in people and make them change—make them take action, and even help them heal—the way nothing else ever could.
I didn’t write my book to throw around the term “post-traumatic stress disorder,” or to give you statistics on how many veterans commit suicide. Nor did I write this memoir to talk in general terms about Vietnam—or even to say, simply, that war affects families.
I wrote my book to share with you a different kind of war story–a story to make you feel something deep within your stomach because I need you to truly believe how the invisible wounds of war can go on and on, and how there can be peace and healing. I’m asking you to take a journey with me—a journey through a thick forest of family secrets, war trauma, and stigmas—a forest where everything’s really quiet, except for a sound that’s been impossible to hear until now: The sound of a little girl named Christal who is still trying to save herself with a story.
To read an excerpt from Thirty Days with My Father: Finding Peace from Wartime PTSD, click here.
This article in Mother Jones explores how spouses and kids of returning war veterans can exhibit PTSD symptoms of their own. It focuses on the case study of Katie, Brannan, and veteran Caleb Vines. A MUST read!
A new study from Syracuse’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families suggests that psychological treatment for spouses and children of veterans with PTSD may reduce the stresses and trauma on the family–and therefore, have a positive influence on veterans’ health.
Click here or on the picture below for this article from Stars and Stripes.
In this full PDF article originally published in Development and Psychopathology in 2001, authors Rachel Yehuda, Sarah Halligan, and Robert Grossman conclude that in intergenerational PTSD (the transmission of PTSD from parent to child), childhood trauma may be an important factor.
The article, “Childhood Trauma and Risk for PTSD: Relationship to Intergenerational Effects of Trauma, Parental PTSD, and Cortisol Excretion,” can be accessed by typing the name of the article into Google, scrolling past the abstracts to the PDF version, and downloading the file.
This article from American Journal of Orthopsychiatry is a review of the literature on intergenerational transmission of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from fathers to sons in families of war veterans. The review addresses several questions: (1) Which fathers have a greater tendency to transmit their distress to their offspring? (2) What is transmitted from father to child? (3) How is the distress transmitted and through which mechanisms? And finally, (4) Which children are more vulnerable to the transmission of PTSD distress in the family?
Veterans’ Children is the first community and support organization to address the generational consequences of living with war trauma- from World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, to our present wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The purpose of their website is to serve as a resource for healing and a forum for sharing stories.
On his website, Inheriting the Vietnam War Legacy, researcher Dr. Ken O’Brien summarizes his theory that genetics–or more precisely, epigenetics–play a role in the intergenerational transmission of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
In her memoir, Falling through the Earth, Danielle Trussoni returns to Vietnam to explore the country where her father fought, as she explores memories of her childhood and how the war affected her family.
This abstract of “Transgenerational Transmission of Cortisol and PTSD Risk” published by Rachel Yehuda and Linda Blerer in Progress in Brain Research (2007), reports that adult children of Holocaust survivors with PTSD have a greater prevalence of PTSD themselves. The full-text PDF version of this article is available for purchase on the website above.