Veteran

A message for Veterans Day

Photo by Juliette Lynch

Three months have passed since we posted our stories and folded up the tents. We've gotten a lot of great feedback and some good exposure, and we thank everyone who took the time to click on our work.

We've all moved on to other things now – internships, jobs, finishing up degrees and starting toward new ones. As our time in the woods of Washington fades into memory, though, it's hard to forget the personal stories we heard from the men and women who have served our country.

A personal war, at home

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Jared Starkel returned from Iraq four years ago, but the memories of his service there have yet to leave him.

Recurring dreams and overwhelming, painful emotions oftentimes make daily interactions a complicated, internal struggle for Jared.

Now, with a wife and four children to support, Jared is trying even harder to combat his PTSD so he can spend more time with the family he loves.

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.

Getting disability compensation

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Excerpt from "More than a Warrior" by Sierra Jiminez

Jared is among the more than 2.2 million servicemen and women who have served in the Global War on Terror. As of March 2010, 1.1 million veterans from the war were eligible for benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs; however, only 442,000 of them had filed claims for war-related injury, according to the group Veterans for Common Sense, a nonprofit organization.

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.

Jerry's Cabin

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Excerpt from "All That Lingers" by Justin Murphy

Soldiers before Citizens

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By Sherri Williams
News21 / Syracuse University

Headstones at Native American cemeteries tell the stories of warriors who fought for this country since its early days.

Alongside the graves of revered warriors Chief Joseph and Yellow Wolf, who battled white settlers to preserve Indian life and land, lay the lesser-known Native American soldiers who went to war to protect the United States.

Graves at the reservation cemeteries in Washington state mark some of the conflicts in which Native Americans served: WWII, Korea, Vietnam and even Grenada.

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