A new children’s book by an Army veteran has gained national attention for the simple yet heartfelt way it breaks down for young listeners the anger often associated with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“Why is Dad So Mad?” explains through the characters of lions why the Dad lion often seems angry. He’s not angry at the young lions, the book explains, he’s angry because of a fire inside of him that he can't put out. And even though he sometimes seems mad, he really loves the young lions and they should try to think about the things he does with them that are loving.
That sounds pretty simple. And simple is exactly what kids need.
There are a few things that are really special about this book.
First, it was written by Army veteran Seth Kastle as a way to explain his own problems to his own children. While he worked through his PTSD issues, he found that he did not have a clear, accurate way to break down why he sometimes seemed mad and why it could seem like that anger was directed at his daughter.
“When I look back at my entire journey over the last 10 years since I’ve been home, when I had to take those steps and realize there was a problem and go get help, that was one of the hardest things I've done,” he said. “I was faced with the point where everything was falling apart in my life – that’s what I had to do to take the steps to keep my family together.”
But the really special thing about this book is the way its clear message resonates outside Kastle’s home. What worked to explain his anger to his own children is working to explain apparent anger to other military kids worldwide. And while most of the people he hears from about it do have ties to the military, he was surprised by how many parents of service members are buying it for their grandkids. He said he hears regularly from troops, veterans and family members telling him about the light bulb moments the simple story has brought to their home.
“I had an email last night that [a father] head read the book to his 4-year-old and that [the child] had gotten that look on his face, that look when children finally understand something,” Kastle told me. “This book is just trying to help kids understand. There’s no right way or wrong way to do this – I got lucky.”
Kastle said he has had no luck getting the book, which is published by a small independent press, into Exchange stores. The Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) book dealer, for example, told him they don’t do business with small publishing companies.
That means the best way for military families to buy the book is through Amazon.com, which is where I picked up mine. While publishers typically send copies to journalists free of charge for review (good or bad), I bought my own copy of this one because I thought it was something my own kids needed to hear. And it was.
The book has been featured on NBC Nightly News, and Kastle is in the process of publishing a new version, "Why is Mom So Mad?"