A glimpse into PSTD’s impact on veterans’ children

Author shares story, hopes to help others

By Melissa Renahan on December 10, 2012

"I have no siblings and a part of me is glad because I wouldn't wish my experience on anyone," admitted Christal Presley. 

On Nov. 1, Presley, who has her PhD in education, released a personal and provocative memoir entitled Thirty Days with My Father: Finding Peace from Wartime PTSD

When her father was eighteen, he was drafted to Vietnam, then returned home with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). As a result of his rage and deep depression, her childhood was troubled. At 18, she left home and didn't speak to her father for the next thirteen years until 2009 when, motivated by years of therapy, Presley asked if she could call her father for 30 consecutive days and ask him questions about Vietnam and what happened. He agreed.

Presley has been writing all of her life and, given that she founded and runs the website United Children of Veterans (www.unitedchildrenofveterans.org) which provides resources about PTSD in children of war veterans, this was a natural step - and her first book.

"When I began these conversations with my father, I blogged about them. I got hundreds and hundreds of responses and it was really overwhelming. In two weeks, 25,000 people found my site. So many of these e-mails came from sons and daughters of veterans who said my story of growing up in a home so torn by war was also theirs," she said.

"Up until then, I thought I was all alone and that I was the only child of a veteran suffering from secondary PTSD because of my father's experience. So many of these sons and daughters thanked me for finally giving them a voice, so I realized I had to write this book and get my story out into the world. There was no other choice."

The story was not just hers, so she did ensure that her father was ready to share their story, good or bad.

"He was reluctant at first. No parent ever plans on having a child write a book about that parent's mental illness, and my father has never been forthcoming with the fact that he has PTSD," Presley explained. "But he never asked me not to share his story - or mine. In the end, he actually encouraged me to write the book because he believed it would help people."

The book is available for purchase and can be found at most major retailers, including Amazon (http://tinyurl.com/aemb4d3).