U.S. Army Veteran Seth Kastle is a true American Hero. After serving our country faithfully for more than 16 years, the husband and father of two returned home from his final deployment overseas.
Seth (pictured above on the far right) knew that coming home to Kansas would be different, but he never expected that the trials he was about to face at home would be worse than things he’d experienced overseas.
Though Seth had a loving family and a strong community around him back home, there was an unbearable sense of anger and frustration building inside of him. It was a feeling he couldn’t explain or get rid of. The Kansas native was unknowingly suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The anxiety disorder often develops in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event—like war.
For years after his return home, Seth struggled with rage-filled outbursts. He’d push people away—even his loved ones and wife—and he relied on alcohol to “solve” his problems.
“I waited until it was too late,” he says. “I didn’t even know what PTSD was.”
He had severed relationships, isolated himself from loved ones and friends, and caused a lot of unnecessary problems in his marriage when his wife (who’s a veteran herself) recommended that he seek help.
Seth admits that walking into the clinic for the first time was a daunting endeavor.
“There’s a stigma associated with PTSD, and a lot of it is the warrior culture and masculinity that you need to be able to handle this, and if you can’t, it’s because you’re weak.”
With trial and error, Seth found a therapy resource that was right for him. And while it helped him get his life back, Seth was still troubled with how to explain to people what was going on—especially when it came to talking with his daughter.
After a long day at work, and multiple failed Internet searches for resources on talking about PTSD with kids, Seth sat at his computer and wrote about his experience with PTSD in a half hour. He saved it to the computer, but had no intention of reading it ever again, until a close friend and fellow veteran published his own book.
Seth was inspired, and he knew his story wasn’t finished yet. With the words he wrote on that “bad” afternoon, he created a children’s book called Why Is Dad So Mad?
“There’s a section in the book where I describe the anger and things associated with PTSD as a fire inside my chest. After I first read the book to my daughter, I remember her saying, ‘I’m sorry you have a fire in your chest now, Dad.”‘
Seth says his daughter was 4 years old at the time, and her statement will be etched in his memory forever.
Much to his surprise, Why Is Dad So Mad? has been so successful, that Seth and his wife, Julia, created a second version called Why Is Mom So Mad?
PTSD should not be taboo, especially when it’s estimated that 1 in every 3 troops who return home from combat are diagnosed with symptoms of the anxiety disorder. The stigma around seeking help is something that Seth hopes to erase by educating the next generation.