PTSD Counseling Brought Me to Journaling and Authorship
I didn’t suffer in silence with PTSD. My writing helped me sort it all out.
For me it was intrusive thoughts in what’s called hyper-vigilance which is always sitting with my back to something. It’s keeping my eyes moving and not being very trustful. Those were just how things manifested for me but there’s lots of different ways that PTSD manifests itself.
But I didn’t suffer in silence.
My writing is my legacy. My experiences are intertwined in my books.
I have two books out. One is a an historical romance novel, Prisoners of War. The other books is Gritty, Grisly and Greedy Stories Inspired by True Crooks and Crimes from My 20 Years as a Fed.
I enlisted in the United States Air Force and served during the Vietnam war. I had a number of other professional experiences as a reserve police officer and I got into corrections work with juveniles and then adults. Ultimately I went into the Army Reserves. I was with the Criminal Investigation Command which is the FBI for the Army. Not as famous as NCIS but still well known. I did that between 1980 and 2003 when I retired.
During that time I had a variety of experiences. Among the things that may be of interest to listeners is between 1989 and 2001 when I was heavily involved with the Protective Services Unit. We’re the counterparts of the Secret Service guarding dignitaries like Secretary of Defense, etc. I have been involved in guarding Dick Cheney, Rumsfeld, Colonel Powell as well as other dignitaries and foreign dignitaries.
All of these experiences are a part of me and lead me to writing.
Prisoners of War
In a way this book is a compilation of my stories and experiences and some family stories. My parents were in certain places during WWII when incidents happened that unfortunately were not good with society. The history seems lost.
For this book I am trying to establish and give an idea of just how scared the public can be which enabled us to do something as unpleasant and unkind as incarcerate thousands of our own citizens. I guess you have to understand the times.
I took great pains to research and make sure that all of the information in the book is historically accurate.
Once I was engaged to marry a very lovely Asian woman and that didn’t work out in large measure because of my behavior. So this is a story of a Japanese-American girl and an American boy and what happens to their love story. I expand and look at the topic of what would you be willing to do with the person you love most in the world were sent to prison by your government for the crime of being Japanese? So that is what’s being investigated.
It includes my story but I changed the time, the place and the names because some of the people are still living. It was respectful to them to set a different time and place. But that’s the story of Prisoners of War.
Catherine and Stu
Gritty, Grisly and Greedy stories Inspired by True Crooks and Crimes From My 20 Years as a Fed
This is a compilation of stories inspired by real people, true crimes and actual events from my 28-year career in law enforcement. My PTSD counselor suggested that I journal and write about my thoughts and experiences as a federal probation officer.
When I began this career I started in San Francisco. I was involved in writing the sentencing report and sometimes doing supervision on some people that you may be familiar with. Just a couple to mention are the Patty Hearst investigation and Sara Jane Moore who would take a shot at our president.
Well, I thought that I would be leaving behind something complicated in California and coming to a quieter area in a quieter place in Idaho but I walked into the Aryan Nation. I was also involved in the Randy Weaver case.
It was very stressful. The public knows PTSD as something that combat veterans succumb to. These PTSD issues appear in vastly different unrecognized aspects of life. PTSD just shows itself in many different ways.
These compilations are part of my dealing with PTSD which is no longer problematic for me. By the way, the robberies in the stories are all true.
Currently I’m involved at a local recovery center doing peer counseling.
Most everybody can come back after hard times and if they do come back it’s a question of did they come back better able to function in society or not? You have to deal with their issues.
Once I perceived that I had a problem I sought help. I’m happy that PTSD is no longer problematic for me. I didn’t live in silence.
Stu’s stained glass door work.
I’d Like My Legacy to be Tangible
One of my experiences was being diagnosed with stage three cancer when I was 41. Having that experience and coming with direct contact with my mortality probably made me a lot nicer person. It caused me to slow down and now with all bad things can come some good.
If I had a time machine I would certainly undo some things. I have some regrets about some mistakes I made but at the same time I had no idea that I would be a retired winemaker, a retired federal agent in Moscow Idaho as a glass artist and an author.
Life is just the way it is and it unfolds one day at a time. We plan and try and control things as much as we can. That’s how my wife and I are living our life now. We’re trying to have a balance in traveling and having some fun in our day-to-day life. I look forward to continuing with what I am doing and changing and being creative.
Doing some things that leave an imprint might be a thing with the glass art. Being involved with Corrections is important but it does not leave a tangible or visible reference. People aren’t concerned with the last case that I had and how good things were and how I changed somebody.
What I’m doing now is doing creative things but also a little bit more enduring because they have a physical presence. That might be establishing a bit of a legacy for me. And that would be nice to be well thought of through the generations including my kids and grandkids to be proud of me.
Author, Stuart L. Scott
The first book is a novel and it's an historical romance. The title of the novel is Prisoners of War.
The second book is a collection of short stories and its title is Gritty, Grizzly, Greedy. Stories Inspired by True Crooks and Crimes from my 28 Years as a Fed. That has 13 short stories and those are the two titles of the books that we are going to talk about today.
I enlisted in the United States Air Force and served during the Vietnam war and then got out as the Vietnam War was winding down. I had a number of other professional experiences as a reserve police officer and I got into corrections work with juveniles and then adults. Ultimately I was not conned but persuaded to go back into the Army Reserves and into the army Criminal Investigation Command which is the FBI for the Army. Not as famous as NCIS but still well known. I did that between 1980 in 2003 when I retired.
During that time I had a variety of experiences. Among the things that may be of interest to listeners is between 1989 and 2001 I was heavily involved with the Protective Services Unit which if anybody has ever seen the Secret Service we are the counterparts. The personal security officers guarding dignitaries like Secretary of Defense, etc. I have been involved in guarding Dick Cheney, Rumsfeld, Colonel Powell as well as other dignitaries and foreign dignitaries.
We would guard the Secretary of Defense, the Chief of Staff, the Secretary of the Army I did that throughout the world - Middle East, Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, South America. I’ve been to presidents homes. Homes like Ronald Reagan and President Ford.
President Reagan's next door neighbor was the big mansion that was the exterior of The Beverly Hillbillies TV show.
To be a good CID officer one really has to follow directions. You have to be able to understand the goal and especially in the Protective Service where this work, well in this work, it is not like the movies with Kevin Costner protecting Whitney Houston in The Bodyguard.
What you're doing is, just like the Secret Service, you're the person that has to take the bullet and it's protecting the principle. So it might be covering somebody's body or pushing them into the limousine and just trying to engineer the environment so that you don't need to put yourself or the principle task at risk. It's quick thinking, planning and I suppose the keyword would be judgement. Knowing what to do or what not to do.
The Army CID is small. There's really only about 600 worldwide credentialed officers. It meant something for me.
I was called back to active duty two times and the first time was during the first Gulf War and I spent about 18 months in active duty. One of the cases that ended up being brought up in the short story in my book was perhaps instrumental in many ways for me.
I was sent to Oklahoma. I was lead investigator investigating a crime regarding the scalding of a child. Many investigators have cases that haunt them in a way that you cannot get out of.
It was very difficult to be interviewing parents and doing things like talking to the doctors and getting pictures of the scalding of that little boy and interviewing the mother and measuring the water temperature Etc., that I found myself dealing with post traumatic stress disorders. PTSD.
Well I sought help through the VA after I retired from the Army and I was introduced to a therapeutic modality and it's called journaling.
It is something that, well there's many ways of dealing with PTSD issues. Lots of people can get PTSD as it’s not just military combat soldiers.
But writing down my feelings and getting them out I didn’t feel so alone. You're sharing things with people so journaling was helpful to me. And that's one of the things that got me involved with writing and a number of the incidents including the case of the scalding of that little boy ended up being referenced in some of the writing that I have done.
Besides the journaling for myself I also sought out some additional counseling and it is a specific technique developed at Stanford that has to do with dealing with recurrent unpleasant thoughts. Things that you cannot control. There's an acronym for that which escapes me right now it eludes me but I think it's EDMS but I perceived a need and I saw no reason if there was some help out there that I should suffer in silence. Suffering in silence gets you nothing.
So writing is one way that I dealt with it and getting more counseling to deal with the intrusive thoughts that helped me and between those two these are things that really are not problematic for me anymore I'm very happy to say.
It's also gratifying that one of the other stories I told you is that I had also been a commercial winemaker for 28 years and so one of the most flattering things that happens is when strangers are willing to give you money for something that you did. That includes buying a copy of my book or buying a bottle of my wine or my glass artwork that I do. All of those things are just very reinforcing for me and I guess maybe because well I don't know I was an only child and I really like praise so there you have it that is my confession on that.
Prisoners of War book
In a way it's a compilation of my story and some family stories and what I mean by that is that my parents as younger people before they were married happened to be at significant places, accidentally, and some examples that unfortunately were not good with history as a society and so the history seems lost.
Maybe you have heard of a true event in February of 1942 of a Japanese submarine that came up near the Santa Barbara Channel very close to the coast and shelled an oil field in Santa Barbara. My mother happened to be a secretary in the office of the oil company and that is something that is lost. You don’t hear about that.
The following day there was an event called The Battle of Los Angeles again little-known but The Battle of Los Angeles has the largest loss of life on the continent during World War II. What happened is very primitive radar following the attack of the Japanese. The radar said the Japanese planes were coming. They feared a repeat of Pearl Harbor and they blacked out the entire Los Angeles area the San Fernando Valley and fired over 1400 shells in the air. Falling shells destroyed a number of homes and killed three people and another three died of heart attacks. My mother was there for that.
In the book I am trying to establish and give an idea of just how scared the public can be which enabled us to do something as unpleasant and unkind as incarcerate thousands of our own citizens but you have to understand the times.
Part of the things that are lost now are signs on the stores that said ‘no dogs or Japs allowed.’ The fact that it wasn't until the summer of 1942 that the American government and the American public did not absolutely believe that we were going to be invaded and the plan at the time according to both of my parents and my grandparents was depending on where the Japanese landed we would stop them at the Grand Canyon or the Sierra Nevadas. So if you think about what would give you pause and just realize that there was no stopping an enemy except by a natural barrier and that was scary stuff.
I took great pains to research and make sure that all of the information in the book is historically accurate.
Two other quick family stories.
I was engaged to marry a very lovely Asian woman and that didn't work out in large measure because of my behavior but it did not work out. And so this being a story of a Japanese-American girl and an American boy and what happens to their love story. I expand and look at the topic of what would you be willing to do with the person you love most in the world were sent to prison by your government for the crime of being Japanese? So that is what's being investigated.
One of the settings is at the naval weapons plant in Washington that produced our Torpedoes. I picked that site because my uncle when he was drafted was a machinist with the Pacific Railroad was sent there to build Torpedoes. So that's the site for part of the story.
But it includes my story and I have changed the time and the place and the names because some of the people and some of the characters are still living and so it was respectful to them to set a different time and place. But that's the story of Prisoners of War.
Stuart you are very dignified and telling the story and it warms my heart. I feel like I should be doing more for you just with the services that you have provided for our country and for the global world for so many years. It truly is an honor to be here and to be here in person.
Aside from your heart being broken with the loss of your love have you ever been injured in the line of duty?
Nothing serious fortunately. I have been very lucky my entire career or all of the careers and I have never had to fire my gun and I have almost had to do that. It's about good judgment and knowing what not to do and sometimes not doing something is better than doing something so I've been very lucky in that regard.
So now we're moving forward and you worked as a probation officer.
Federal probation officer and simultaneously a federal parole agent. When I started that in 1975 in San Francisco there were two separate agencies, the Department of Justice and the Federal Court. I started in San Francisco. I had been involved in writing the sentencing report and sometimes doing supervision on some people that your listeners may be familiar with including the Patty Hearst investigation and Sara Jane Moore who would take a shot at our president and then I came to Idaho and I was involved in the Randy Weaver case.
I thought that I would be leaving something complicated in California and coming to a quieter area in a quieter place but I walked into the Aryan Nations.
I've come across some cases that that I've been involved with things that have been in the public eye from time to time
Was This stressful?
Yes it was and that's part of well a lot of those things associated with my PTSD. By the way the public knows PTSD for just combat veterans but there are lots of ways to get it so all kinds of First Responders have PTSD issues and I'm sure people in vastly different unrecognized aspects of life have it and a lot of parents have PTSD. It just shows itself in many different ways.
With me or for me it was intrusive thoughts in what's called hyper-vigilance. Always sitting with my back to something and keeping my eyes moving and not being very trustful. But those were just how things manifested for me so there's lots of different ways that PTSD manifests itself.
I always ended up working alone and dealing with people and you know some of the folks made mistakes and part of what I learned is that there was a segment of the folks that I dealt with that realize their mistakes and we're not going to do it again. So there I was kind of doing a monitoring function.
There was an equal segment of criminals that if Jesus Christ came down and touched those people directly on the forehead they still would not have gotten any better. That was also monitoring and more surveillance.
So I focused on the 40% of the people in the middle that could go either way. In trying to be not just a policeman but also being there if and when they wanted assistance I could be a resource person. So I wasn't going to be their counselor but these 40% of the people who could go either way perceived that in their own mind their life was not working. I could step in and assist in getting whatever they needed such as substance abuse counseling, financial counseling or it might be mental health issues. Any of those things. And that's where I gave my emphasis.
So I found at the end of my career as a probation officer it was very much as close to being a loving but strict parent. I had to deal with everybody on an individual basis and one size did not fit all. I was not trying to catch them and I wasn't trying to excuse them.
And so now I am currently involved one day a week at a local recovery center. I do volunteer work with the recovery center here in town and it is peer counseling. Mostly substance abusers.
One of the reasons I volunteer is that I absolutely believe that the idea that listen we're going to lock these people up and we're going to send them away and that's going to make society a better place and make me safer doesn’t work. Plainly put that absolutely does not work because there are very few people that I dealt with who don't come back to the same place where they were when they committed their crimes.
Most everybody can come back and if they do come back it's been a question of did they come back better able to function in society or not? And if you want to make people better in society without necessarily excusing them, then you cannot just lock them up. You have to deal with their issues.
Even if people still have problems, because we are fallible human beings, if you can make them a little bit more functional in society then ultimately, because they are still our neighbors, that's better for all of us.
So I'm trying to actually practice that by being involved and you know I give them donations but the biggest thing I can do is to actually give them my time.
That's a wonderful positive imprint that you've been for the global community. Now you are taking all of what you did for so many years and you are still applying it here locally and being that positive imprint. I thank you for that.
Here's a very personal question. You are good at your service. You are good at leaving this positive imprint wherever you go. Do you feel that you didn't get what you wanted out of a personal life because you were providing your services to others your entire working career? Do you feel shorted that you didn't get your personal life the way you wanted it or is this the way you want it?
Absolutely not. I've been very lucky. I’m married to the same wonderful woman for 45 years. She is also a cutie and I don't know why this beautiful women is hanging out with me but I’m lucky in that regard. I have been involved with raising four kids and nobody is on anybody's caseload and that is all good.
One of my experiences was I was diagnosed and had stage three cancer when I was 41 and having that experience and coming with direct contact with my mortality probably made me a lot nicer person. It caused me to slow down and now with all bad things can come some good but no I do not think that I missed out.
If I had a time machine I would certainly undo some things and I have some regrets about some mistakes I made but at the same time I have had no idea that I would be a retired winemaker, a retired federal agent in Moscow Idaho as a glass artist and an author. Life is just the way it is and it unfolds one day at a time. We plan and try and control things as much as we can and that is involved with how my wife and I are living our life now and trying to have a balance in traveling and having some fun in our day-to-day life. I look forward to continuing with what I am doing and changing and being creative.
Doing some things that leave an imprint and that may be a thing with the glass art. Being involved with Corrections is important but it does not leave a tangible or visible reference. People aren’t concerned with the last case that I had and how good things were and how I changed somebody but what I'm doing now is doing creative things but also a little bit more enduring because they have a physical presence. And that might be establishing a bit of a legacy for me and that would be nice. That would be nice for me to be well thought of through the generations including my kids and grandkids to be proud of me. That would be very nice.
Excerpts from the book read by the author.
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