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Wives Left Behind

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By Sherri Williams
News21 / Syracuse University

Rayna Cawston has been through a war deployment. She understands the fear, loneliness and anxiety of having a husband in a combat zone.

When Rayna, 25, was afraid to sleep alone at night she had her girls — Mylia, 7, and Antya, 22 months — sleep with her. Scary noises Rayna heard at night prompted her to buy two intimidating dogs for an added sense of security. As Rayna’s loneliness lingered and her sadness swelled she started to take antidepressants, and had her family rally around her to support her.

More than a Warrior

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By Michelle San Miguel
News21 / Syracuse University

Jared Starkel was walking past the dairy case at Prince’s Center — the grocery store where he worked — when the “threat” appeared out of nowhere.

An Arab man was coming toward him.

Jared’s mind processed the data: Turban. Beard. Blue, flowing garment.

Talking with Mike and Karen pt.2

Photo by: Kate Szrom

Today, I spent another afternoon with Mike Stewart and Karen Schimpf.

Before Mike and Karen got together in 2007, Mike lived in the woods near Chesaw in a 16 x 48 cabin he built himself. 

For Mike, life in the woods was solitary but peaceful.  He only had to account for himself.  He didn't have a lawn to mow or a television with the full allotment of  stations.  He's still getting used to living in what he calls an "electric house."

Women war vets want recognition

Shannon Williams spoke to two News21 reporters at her home Photo by: Kelly West

Yesterday the Veterans of Foreign Wars kicked off the start of Republic's Prospectors' Days parade, a major summer event in this rural Washington town.

Middle-aged men walked down the street carrying the American flag. Young boys proudly strolled next to them. But there were no women.

The absence of women in the parade mirrors the lack of appreciation some contemporary women veterans feel.

Shannon Williams, 29, who was in the Army, had two tours of duty in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. She was a cook in the Middle East and she was posted at a U.S. entry gate.

Enjoying Prospectors' Days

Spectators lined Clark Street for Prospectors' Day Photo by: Kelly West

During our time in Republic, dozens of locals have told us to come see what the Prospectors' Days celebration is all about.

This weekend, we did just that. Some of us came out to run (and place) in the 3.7-k and 10-k races. Others were there to shoot video of the parade. Sherri and I grabbed lunch downtown at the Sportsmen Roost, which has become one of our favorite spots to eat downtown. Kelly and Kate stopped by after shooting some photos and videos.

Interviews and trauma

We've been talking with veterans and advocates who point out that interviewing veterans with PTSD and other people with trauma can be a unique situation. A traumatized person may talk about emotionally painful things voluntarily. But for some, it can unleash intense feelings, which the traumatized person then has to figure out how to cope with.

A few tips we learned:

Be clear about your role. You're not a counselor. Let them know what to expect from you as a journalist, what that involves (one interview, phone contact, etc.).

Sunday with Ishi

Ishi Canaday in her backyard in Chelan, Wa. Photo by: Justin Murphy

On the first sunny Sunday since we've been out west, AJ and I took a beautiful drive out to Chelan, as far west as any Syracuse News21 fellow has dared tread thus far. We had an appointment with Rick Francis of Blackdog Foundation and Ishi Canaday, a domestic abuse victim whom he's helped.

Mothers unite

Daralyn Hollenbeck, Blue Star Mothers organizer Photo by: Sherri Williams

When Daralyn Hollenbeck saw mothers of soldiers at war she always thought the women handled the stress of having a child at battle with ease.

"When it happened to me I realized it wasn't so easy," said Hollenbeck, 51, of Oroville whose son Josh Hollenbeck was deployed to Iraq in February. "The biggest thing that surprised me was how deploy I feared for him."

When culture & war collide

Vietnam veterans Keith "Soy" Redthunder and Jim Smith Photo by: Sherri Williams

For Jim Smith, a Native American Vietnam War veteran, fighting an adversary who resembled him was a struggle.

"They looked so much like our local people here that it was difficult for me to do my job," Smith, 63, said of the Vietnamese."These were people. They weren't just the gooks, the enemy...You could look at the kids and they could have been any of the kids here."

Smith and Keith "Soy" Redthunder, another Native American Vietnam War veteran, talked to us today about their war experiences at the veteran's office at the Confederated Tribes of Colville Reservation.

"Romance the spouse"

Liberty Chamberlain prepares to dip into the raffle hat. Photo by: Steve Davis

It looked like a cute baby convention‚ and in some measure it was. In fact, it was the ‚"Romancing the Spouse" event in DuPont, Wash., outside Tacoma and neighboring the Ft. Lewis military base. "We went expecting an army. We got one. An army of strollers," said Steve Konz, who purchased the 1,300-acre spread in 1961 that today is the K Diamond K dude ranch in rural northeastern Washington.

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