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Author of PTSD memoir to visit university

Christal Presley
Author Christal Presley

Christal Presley, Ph.D., spent her childhood in Virginia tiptoeing around her father, a Vietnam veteran who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Presley will talk about her family's experiences, chronicled in her critically acclaimed memoir, at the University of North Georgia (UNG) on Nov. 6-7 as part of the university's Visiting Author Series.

The series brings contemporary writers to discuss their work and offer insights about the writing and publishing process. Presley will speak on Nov. 6 at 7 p.m. on the Dahlonega Campus in the Health and Natural Sciences auditorium and on Nov. 7 at 4 p.m. on the Gainesville Campus in the Martha T. Nesbitt Academic Building, Room 3110. Both events are free and open to the public.

Decades after leaving home at age 18, Presley returned to Virginia to spend 30 days talking to her father about his experiences, a project that she wrote about in "Thirty Days with My Father: Finding Peace from Wartime PTSD."

"I didn't write my book to throw around the terms 'post-traumatic stress disorder' or 'traumatic brain injury,' or to give statistics on how many veterans commit suicide. Nor did I write this memoir to talk in general terms about Vietnam, or even to say, simply, that war affects families," Presley said. "I wrote my book to share a different kind of war story — a story to make you feel something deep within your stomach because I need you to truly believe how the invisible wounds of war can go on and on, and how there can be peace and healing."

Thirty Days with My Father

Presley is the founder of United Children of Veterans, a website that provides resources about PTSD in children of war veterans. Since her book was released in 2012, Presley has shared her family's story on CNN, on NPR and in countless other television, radio, magazine and newspaper interviews. Presley said she finds it easier to talk about her childhood than to read her own book, and she hopes her story helps other families dealing with the same issues.

"When the general public hears about soldiers coming back from war and the PTSD and traumatic brain injuries they often experience, it's hard for them to internalize what that means. When the media tells us that war can also affect family members of veterans, it's hard to connect with such general statements," Presley said. "In hearing my family's story, I hope [people] begin to care more about veterans and their families. … I hope [people] care so much [they] take action. It's the only way the invisible injuries of war will stop wounding throughout generations – if we all end our silence."

Christal Presley, an English teacher now living in Atlanta, has a bachelor's degree in English and master's degree in English education from Virginia Tech and holds a doctorate in education. She spent seven years teaching middle and high school English in Virginia.

Since its inception in 1996, the Visiting Author Series, which is sponsored by UNG's Department of English, has included poets, novelists, memoirists and non-fiction writers. Presley's visit also is sponsored by Phi Eta Sigma, the honor society for first-year students, and Sigma Tau Delta, the international English honor society.

For more information about the Visiting Author Series, visit the website.  

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