Veteran with PTSD writes powerful book 'Why is Dad So Mad?' to help explain the disorder to his young daughter.

"Why is Dad So Mad"

Army veteran Seth Kastle had everything going for him when he came home from serving 16 years overseas. That's why it was so confusing to him when his life began to fall apart.

He had a job, a loving wife, family, and friends. He knew things would be different when he moved back to Kansas, but he didn't think they'd be that different. But he felt an extreme anger building up inside, a fire inside his chest that he couldn't explain or get rid of.

Kastle was unknowingly suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), an anxiety disorder that can develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event — like war.


"I waited until it was too late," he said. "I didn't even know what PTSD was."

Seth Kastle on the far right. Image courtesy of Seth Kastle.

Kastle struggled for years without getting help, pushing away his loved ones — including his wife. There were outbursts at work. He was drinking too much. It all started to add up.

"There have been a thousand times looking back where my wife should have left me," he said.

Image courtesy of Seth Kastle.

Kastle and his wife stuck it out, though, and Kastle began to find ways to get through his battle.

He tried going to VA group therapy, but because of the time slots he could attend, the groups were all full of Vietnam veterans who were 30 years ahead of Kastle in their reintegration process. It wasn't the most helpful for his current state of mind. Eventually, he was able to find a therapy resource that worked, and it helped him get back on his feet and keep his marriage and life intact.

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But he still wasn't sure how to talk about what was going on, especially with his little girl.

PTSD resources to help you broach the topic with kids were lacking online. So, one day, Kastle came home from a bad day at work, sat down, and wrote a story about his experience with PTSD in 30 minutes. Then, he filed it away on his computer, not intending to ever see it again.

It wasn't until a close friend and fellow veteran published a book that Kastle was inspired to keep going with his own story.

Image courtesy of Seth Kastle.

Kastle created the children's book titled "Why Is Dad So Mad?" to help explain to his six-year-old daughter his struggles with PTSD. And when it was published, he read it to his daughter for the first time.

"There's a section in the book where I describe the anger and things associated with PTSD as a fire inside my chest," he said. "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.'"

"She was four at the time. That's something I'm always going to remember."

Image courtesy of Seth Kastle.

His daughter isn't the only one putting the pieces together from the book. Kastle receives frequent emails from appreciative parents trying to explain PTSD to their own children. And that gives Kastle all sorts of feelings, mainly because he never intended for his words to be for anyone but his own kids.

Image courtesy of NBC News.

"Why Is Dad So Mad?" has been such a success that he decided to co-write another version with his wife, who is also a veteran, called "Why Is Mom So Mad?"

Kastle hopes to help break the taboo on PTSD and start conversations about it with loved ones.

"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," he said. "And if you can't, it's because you're weak."

But that's not true, and Kastle said if our military members have more resources to help talk about PTSD, reintegration back into home life could be a lot easier.

We need to fundamentally reexamine how new moms are cared for after childbirth.

According to the PTSD Foundation of America, one in three troops returning home are getting diagnosed with symptoms of PTSD, but less than 40 percent will ultimately seek help.

The stigma, shame, and discrimination around mental health issues is damaging for those who face symptoms as well as those who are close to them. We all play a role in tackling outdated views on mental health, and we can help shift attitudes by educating ourselves, listening more, and showing support to those who need it.

Kastle admits that it was extremely hard to walk into the clinic that first time, but seeking out that resource ultimately changed his life. More support and resources for our vets will create more success stories like his.

Image courtesy of Seth Kastle.

"I can easily admit that every piece of my life is better now that I took that step," he said.

And, now, the man who didn't even know what PTSD was is using his voice to educate a younger generation on it. That's how you chip away at a taboo.

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Courtesy of Macy's

In many ways, 18-year-old Idaho native, Hank Cazier, is like any other teenager you've met. He loves chocolate, pop music, and playing games with his family. He has lofty dreams of modeling for a major clothing company one day. But one thing that sets him apart may also jeopardize his future is his recent battle against a brain tumor.

Cazier was diagnosed in 2015. When he had surgery to remove the tumor, he received trauma to his brain and lost some of his motor functionality. He's been in physical, occupational, and speech therapy ever since. The experience impacted Cazier's confidence and self-esteem, so he's been looking for a way to build himself back up again.

"I wanted to do something that helped me look forward to the future," he says.

Enter Make-A-Wish, a nonprofit organization that grants wishes for children battling critical illnesses, providing them a chance to make the impossible possible. The organization partnered with Macy's to raise awareness and help make those wishes a reality. The hope is that the "wish effect" will improve their quality of life and empower them with the strength they need to overcome these illnesses and look towards the future. That was a particularly big deal for Cazier, who had been feeling like so many of his wishes weren't going to be possible because of his critical illness.

"In the beginning, it was hard to accept that it would be improbable for me to accomplish my previous goals because my illness took away so many of my physical abilities," says Cazier. His wish of becoming a model also seemed out of reach.

But Macy's and Make-A-Wish didn't see it like that. Once they learned about Cazier's wish, they knew he had to make it come true by inviting him to be part of the magical Macy's holiday shoot in New York.

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Make-A-Wish can't fulfill children's wishes without the generosity of donors and partners like Macy's. In fact, since 2003, Macy's has given more than $122 million to Make-A-Wish and impacted the lives of more than 2.9 million people.

Cazier's wish experience was beyond what he could've imagined, and it filled him with so much joy and confidence. "It is like waking up and discovering that you have super powers. It feels amazing!" he exclaims.

One of the best parts about the day for him was the kindness everyone who helped make it happen showed him.

"The employees of Macy's and Make-A-Wish made me feel welcome, warm, and cared for," he says. "I am truly grateful that even though they were busy doing their jobs, they were able to show kindness and compassion towards me in all of the little details."

He also got to spend part of the shoot outdoors, which, as someone who loves climbing, hiking, and scuba-diving but has trouble doing those activities now, was very welcome.

Courtesy of Macy's

Overall, Cazier feels he grew a lot during his modeling wish and is now emboldened to work towards a better quality of life. "I want to acquire skills that help me continue to improve in these circumstances," he says.

You can change the lives of more kids like Cazier just by writing a letter to Santa and dropping it in the big red letterbox at Macy's (you can also write and submit one online). For every letter received before Dec. 24, 2019, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. By writing a letter to Santa, you can help a child replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy, and anxiety with hope.

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