Bay Area veteran's new book helps military families cope with post-traumatic stress disorder

FAIRFIELD, Calif. (KGO) -- A Bay Area mother and Marine Corps veteran has turned a popular Facebook post into a powerful children's book. It's aimed at military families coping with post-traumatic stress; a tough subject handled with a gentle touch.

Today, Maggie Hundshamer is a happy mother, picking her children up at school in Fairfield. But for seven years she was a Marine posted in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Africa.

Maggie was a helicopter mechanic and says she thrived in the military until an unexpected attack left her with post-traumatic stress disorder.

"I was sexually assaulted while I was overseas," she said. "And a lot of females in the military do not report it, me being one of them, so it was something I sort of carried around on my own."

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Maggie came home, had children, and tried to get on with life.

"And I hit a low point," she said. "I attempted suicide. I was revived. I'm here to talk about it."

Maggie did get treatment and is doing well, but it's been tough for her kids.

"They've seen me struggle," she said. "They've seen me hurt. They've seen me cry on the kitchen floor and through all of it, they have been a backbone. They are my reason for still being here."

So Maggie wrote a story to help her children understand what was happening.

Reading a portion of the book, Maggie says, "I want you to know that sometimes I'm sad, but it's not you my sweet baby, you haven't been bad."

Then Maggie made a video of the story and posted it on Facebook.

"You see, my mommy is a Marine and she went away," Maggie said in the Facebook post. "She stayed in the desert to keep the bad guys at bay."

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Family and friends shared it.

"And it just went crazy and then my inbox just started blowing up," said Maggie.

Later, Maggie posted a version for fathers with PTSD. It got more than 130,000 views and so much support from veterans that Maggie finally turned the story into an actual book. It just published a few weeks ago.

"I've had a ton of people asking for signed copies," she said.

Fundraising to pay for an illustrator and get the first copies published was a struggle - but Maggie had a big community behind her.

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"It was just veteran after veteran explaining to the next person, 'Hey you could use this book for your child,'" said Maggie.

The book is called "When Daddy Comes Home." Maggie asked vets to send photos of themselves and their children for the book's Facebook page.

"It teaches you about when people die, people cry a lot," said Maggie's daughter, Bella.

Maggie adds, "It's just enough of an explanation so that when you are done reading the book, your child can look at you and say, 'Daddy, what happened to your friend?' And then you can actually talk to your children."

New illustrations are already in the works for a "Mommy Comes Home" book, then one for police and firefighters suffering from post-traumatic stress.

The book is for sale online for $10. Maggie is also raising money to donate copies to veterans coming home from overseas.

To buy a book:

To donate a book:

Written and produced by Jennifer Olney.
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