The DeMarco Project Speaks
Healing Steps – A Lesson in Compassion
By Kim J. Clark
Aka Expanding Love
Like many women, “daddy issues” are, or more accurately put, were in my bag of “excess
weight” I’ve been carrying around. I used to think my father was mean and did love or even like
his family. However, in working with veterans, this writer is beginning to understand that he was
dealing with post war mental and emotional trauma. Presently, the mental health community
refers to these types of issues as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This revelation about my
father has come about as a result of my efforts to help my younger brother understand who he
was. Our father made his transition before my baby brother was born.
David C. Eley, was an honorably discharged soldier who served in Vietnam. He had a great
sense of humor, loved John Coltrane and was a humanitarian at heart. Prior to working with
veterans, my perception was that he was would trick you into letting your guard down (joking,
playing games, dancing together…) then would be on a mission to destroy his so called “loved
ones.” I am happy to say, I was wrong.
In the past, thoughts of him would cause anger and rage to well up in me. Being a person who
has the desire to hold no place of unforgiveness within myself, it has been a struggle to be free of
the emotional and physical pain experienced at his hand. I tried working through my “daddy
issues” in therapy, prayer, meditation, writing…writing… and more writing. For years it seemed
like the healing work was successful until his name would come up or a back spasm would hit…
then back to the drawing board, I would go.
The more this writer works with veterans, the easier it has become to recognize verbal and non-
verbal queues that are indicators to “back off” of a particular topic. Moving or talking too fast
can cause a traumatized veteran to become agitated. Trying to help where help is not wanted can
be perceived as aggressive behavior. Unwanted physical contact can be perceived as
disregarding personal boundaries. Any of these behaviors, just to name a few, have the potential
to trigger a PTSD episode.
With this new understanding of veteran issues, this writer understands Army veteran David C.
Eley suffered in silence. As a family we suffered. But that is not the end of our story. This writer
thinks of him now and smiles about the good times. My dad taught me how to Waltz and do the
Camel Walk, a dance from “back in the day.” Now, I fondly remember him focused on writing
while listening to John Coltrane. There were many positive lessons. The painful ones are finally
not “center stage” when I think of my dad. He was a man who loved his daughter and tried to
teach lessons that would help me in life. He was also a man who lived with emotion issues and
no help was available. For this I have compassion
If you, or a loved one is dealing with service related emotional/mental health issues, please seek
help. There are many resources available. Reach out to the Veteran’s Administration, or a
veteran service organization such as The DeMarco Project. We are here to help you. We are
committed to saving veteran lives and improving the quality of life for traumatized veterans.
Kim is the mother of a veteran who loved his country and was willing to lay his life down for the
freedoms he believed in. She is the Founder and CEO of The DeMarco Project, Non-profit
organization. Her life’s mission it to save veteran lives and improve the quality of life for
traumatized military service persons. If you would like to support her in the work, donations are
welcome. Visit the website: www.TheDeMarcoProject.org.