I am finishing the writing for Volume 3 of my Stories from the World War II Battlefield series on writing the stories of war. This book contains over 500 writing prompts to help you write the stories of war, from a U.S. or European perspective.
When I was creating the writing prompts, I spent an entire day thinking, writing, and crying, over a subject I was not sure if I should include. The trauma of war.
Today I am thinking about my grandfather, who was born this day, 17 March 1906 in Chicago.
My grandfather, Joseph Holik, served in the US Naval Armed Guard for almost two years, 1943 – 1945. In July 1945, he was removed from his ship and sent to a Naval Hospital in California for treatment. His mind was not what it should have been and Grandpa Joe ended up living the rest of his life in the VA Hospital. My grandmother essentially became a single mother when he went to war, with three boys under 12 at home. When I started researching and writing the stories of my family, this is one story I was not ready to touch. The last few years, being a single mother myself, really brought the story closer and I could see similarities between me and my grandmother.
My grandfather’s story has been too painful for me to really get close to until this year. I never knew my grandfather. I only heard whispered stories about his service and his life. Each story was different and even my grandma didn’t tell me much while she was alive and I was asking questions.
Have you every stopped to consider the words we speak, and those we do not, affect us, our families, descendants, and everyone else they might touch?
Have you ever thought how the trauma of war filters down through the generations and affects those of us who were not even alive during the war?
This is the first in a series of articles I will write about the Trauma of War and how it affected me, my family, possibly my kids, and how we can heal. The idea has been swimming in my head for a while, but it wasn’t until I started reading the book, Gated Grief by Leila Levinson, that it really pushed me to the edge of, ‘Now is the time to start really dealing with and sharing this.’
For now, I encourage you to think about the questions I posed in this article. Feel free to share how your family spoke of, or did not, the war and the effects on the soldier and family.
Purchase the book Stories from the WWII Battlefield: Writing the Stories of War and start writing your stories today. Then explore the research and writing courses on my course websites WWII Education and Finding the Answers Journey.
© 2016, Jennifer Holik
Judy Presley says
Thank you Jennifer for sharing & just want to say that I fully understand what you mean. My Dad served in the European Theater & came home from WWII at the young age of 23 but only lived 23 more years, having died at 46 after suffering several heart attacks. He never spoke much about his time overseas, but I have always felt the trauma he experienced caused his early death.
Please keep us posted on your writing, though it will be tough for you to put words(feelings) on paper, I do believe you & your family will benefit from your sharing & there will be many of us who really will understand.
Jennifer Holik says
Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts Judy. It is difficult to put it into words but I have been slowly doing so. I intend to write his story in a future book. I hope the writing book I release in May helps others question the service and effects of war and write their own stories.
Kathy ott says
I have just started research on my dad and ww2 when I found out by ordering his enlistment /discharge papers. He was discharged from Hammer Field,in Fresno on Nov.9,1945. For awhile I was thinking I didn’t want to know what all those coded meant. But after I read your letter about your grampa,i will find away to honor him. He never talked about his service so I figured it wasn’t important. I have requested his medical and any information they can send me. I found some post cards he sent my gramma,he must have been there. My problem is finding what unit he was in. My dad enlisted Dec 28,43 and has honorable discharge Nov.9,45.this is my email. Kathy1150kt@gmail.com. Thanks
Beth Reuschel says
I’m proud of you, I remember discussing this with you and I bet it was a hard one to write about 🙂
Jennifer Holik says
Marjorie N. Vaughan says
Hi Jennifer , Thank you for sharing about your grandfather. My father was in three battles, including the Battle of the Bugle. My parents married before he was shipped to the ETO. When he came home they had seven children, I was the oldest born in 1947. He never talked of the war! (until about the year 2000) My mother talked to me a lot about it. Dad’s siblings all talked about the stories. They knew everything about his war experience. He was very protective of us.
When I was 12 years of age, daddy started having bad nightmares. Only mother and I knew what was happening to him. She took him to the VA Hospital in Houston. They put him on very strong medication, sent him home to waited two years for him a bed, for real treatment. My mother had to go to work, two jobs. daytime as a waitress and nights in a nursing home as an aide. I cared for the younger siblings. Two were not in school. I tried to quit school. But had to be married. I married the boy next door to help my family. I am writing our family’s history, mostly about” dad’s and my war” and the effects of all of our lives. My dad only received $32,00 per month, all these years after they put him in lock up in Va hospital after the two year wait for treatment. “To keep him from hurting himself” they said, What about the 2 years my mother and I cared for him, fearing the same thing? My dad never worked again! Long story…my husband Wesley and I have fought the VA for his benefits’ since year 2000. after 14 years he was diagnosis with 100% PTSD, both feet being frozen in battle, shoulder still dislocated from falling through bridge running under fire at night in active battle. plus he has always( since war) been totally deaf in one ear and partly in other. ALL from world war two!! He started getting $3,700 monthly at the age of 91 years old. Too late for him to enjoy. Dad died the 30th of January 2016, almost two months ago. I was very lucky, Wesley and I took care of him at our home the last five months of his life. Dad and I talked about his war so much, we watch him actually become proud of what he contributed to our American history. My husband tells me I helped him to express the pain through talking about it these last years of having to know the history to get the benefits’ he so rightly deserved!
Thank you again, I want to buy your book! and God Bless America Always!
Marjorie Tarver Vaughan