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A Gift Given

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By Justin Murphy
News21 / Syracuse University

One thing about Ed Bush: He knows how to laugh.

It’s a hoarse belly chuckle that goes along with good news and bad. His gray ponytail and prodigious stomach get to bobbing; his small, sparkly eyes sparkle more brightly, casting about for someone to draw into the joke.

Ed didn’t always laugh like this.

Not as a gunner in Korea during the Vietnam War, when he rappelled from helicopters into a hail of midnight bullets with a simple task: eliminate.

PTSD Experience

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When you boil it down, much of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is born from the habits that people develop in a warzone in order to stay alive. This includes behavior like hypervigilence and constant suspicion. The trauma part comes in when a person returns home, but their mind is still in the warzone, trying to protect them from perceived threats -- at the mall, while grocery shopping or driving down the road.

All That Lingers

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By Justin Murphy News21 / Syracuse University

Even after you get to the swinging front gate — across the gravel bridge over Bolster Creek, half a mile down a rumbling, rutted driveway, cheatgrass stabbing through the car windows and magpies rattling along a barbed wire fence — Jerry Middleton’s house is still out of sight.

One of the Guys

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By Sherri Williams
News21 / Syracuse University

Shannon Williams joined the U.S. Army so it would be a passport out of her small town and its five-screen movie theatre, Wal-Mart and Pizza Hut.

About half of the 40 girls who attended Okanogan High with her ended up pregnant while they were still in school or shortly after they got out, and they were tied to men and jobs that stifled their potential, Williams said.

She didn’t want that for herself.

18 and Enlisted

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By Sierra Jiminez
News21 / Syracuse University

Children Left Behind

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By Sherri Williams
News21 / Syracuse University

Kaden Hollenbeck’s firm handshake, energetic personality and animated voice belie that of a typical 7-year-old.

His maturity mixes with his spirited and sad greeting: “My dad is in Iraq!” he shouts with both pride and pain swirling in his voice at the family home on the Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane, Wash.

When He Came Home

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By Matthew Nojiri

News21 / Syracuse University

The Marine’s family and friends come to this cemetery just outside of town to think about the kid who loved to wrestle, who spent holidays fishing with his father, who had a smile people still remember.

Someone has placed a toy motorbike on his gravestone. As a teenager, the Marine used to race up these Northeastern Washington trails and dart between trees in a town covered with more forest trails than streets.

Mothers Left Behind

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By Sherri Williams
News21 / Syracuse University

Daralyn Hollenbeck almost crumbled before her only son went off to war in Iraq.

She didn’t know how to say goodbye to Josh Hollenbeck, 29, without falling apart.

Her worries overwhelmed her. Daralyn crawled into bed late one night about a week before her son’s deployment and cried uncontrollably.

What if he doesn’t come back?

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.

Coming Soon | Apart From War

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Our site goes live early August, with in-depth stories, photo galleries and slideshows, videos and interactive graphics. Our team of 10 journalists from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications embedded for a month and a half here in rural, northeastern Washington state, a spot rich in military service to our country. It was a living lab, a place to explore an important question: How have wars past and present changed lives — forever?

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