HAYS, Kan. – A Fort Hays State University instructor has translated his military experiences into a book for children that has caught national attention.
Seth Kastle’s children’s book for military families dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder, titled “Why Is Dad So Mad?,” was funded on the popular Kickstarter fundraising website in a mere eight hours. When the project was featured as one of the site’s “Staff Picks,” Kastle was contacted by an NBC Nightly News representative. The show featured Kastle and his book in its “Making a Difference” segment on Wednesday, April 1.
Kastle is an FHSU graduate and retired Army first sergeant currently teaching in the Department of Leadership Studies, primarily for FHSU’s partner institutions in China.
“The story of ‘Why Is Dad So Mad?’ is mostly just my story,” Kastle said. “It is something that was in my head for a lot of years, but I never actually put it down on paper. I needed a way to explain things to my children, so when I did research and found nothing, I started taking steps to actually do this for real.”
Very few resources exist that address PTSD for combat veterans who are fathers — even fewer for female combat veterans who are mothers.
Kickstarter is a website used to fund creative projects through the direct support of online donations. Kastle’s initial Kickstarter campaign blew past its original goal, creating enough funding for a second book.
“After more than a decade of asymmetrical warfare and women in combat roles becoming a very blurred line, there are literally thousands of mothers dealing with this issue as well. I have already written a second book, ‘Why Is Mom So Mad?,’ in consultation with women combat veterans who are mothers. My hope is that these books fill a need which presently has little to no resources to do so.”
When faced with the challenge of finding the right illustrator for the story, Kastle took his manuscript to Lee Powers, chair of the Department of Art and Design at FHSU. Kastle was introduced to junior studio art major Karissa Gonzalez-Othon of Colorado Springs, and a partnership was born.
“We talked about the project and I gave her the manuscript with illustration notes for each page along with some general guidance. Two weeks later she sent me the original character ideation, and the rest is history,” Kastle said.
Kastle plans to market his books directly to military and government channels. These include Warrior Transition Battalions, where wounded service members go to recuperate from combat injuries, as well as the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, which operates all shopping centers on military installations.
Kastle began his military career in the field of medical logistics. He later reclassified as an infantryman, then a drill sergeant, finishing his career as a company first sergeant. His additional Army training included Airborne School, Combatives Instructor Course, Combat Lifesaver Course, Army Basic Instructor Course, and many other advanced leadership and maneuver courses.
“My military career took me all over the country and the world. I spent substantial time in Germany, Qatar, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and Iraq,” Kastle said.
His book is available through the Amazon store on his website www.kastlebooks.com. It will soon be available at Barnes & Noble, as well as electronically through iBooks, Google Play, Kindle and Nook.
Both books will also be published in Spanish, thanks to the translation efforts of Alma Hidalgo, a graduate student and multicultural recruitment admissions counselor at FHSU.
Kastle grew up in Kensington and lives with his wife and daughters in WaKeeney.