LIANE HANSEN, host:
The United States has been at war for more than seven years, and yet the war has touched few Americans. Most of those who have paid the price for the U.S. conflicts in Iraq, in Afghanistan are members of the all-volunteer military, their families, and the medical community that cares for them.
Unidentified Woman #1: I look at this stuff very scientifically and from a medical perspective, at the same time still trying to be nurturing and compassionate and realizing that this is a human being in the bed who can still hear.
Unidentified Man #1: People are coming out, just bloodied, running for dear life, and pulling up semi-trucks and throwing bodies in there and driving bodies down to the hospital.
Unidentified Woman #2: When he first got home, he was sleeping on the floor in the living room. When he did sleep, he would sleepwalk. In fact, he'd get up and run outside, run into the street, thinking he was in Iraq.
HANSEN: Weekend Edition is teaming up with NPR's Impact of War unit and NPR member stations for a four-part series beginning next week. The series starts in Portland, Oregon, with the story of a veteran whose life and mental health have been shattered by his experiences in Iraq. Oregon Public Broadcasting's April Baer will have the first report, and she's here with a brief preview. First of all, April, welcome to the program.
APRIL BAER: Thank you for having me.
HANSEN: Tell us briefly about your story.
BAER: Well, I ran into a young man named John Blaufus. He's just 26 years old. He joined the army back in 2004 and was in the infantry. And he did some work in Baghdad. His company went on to participate in the second invasion of Fallujah. The interesting thing about him is that he was actually able to keep himself together during the time that he served. But when he came home and got farther and farther away from, I guess you could say, the protective cocoon of the military, that was when his life really started to spiral out of control to an extent.
He got married and divorced very quickly. He tried to attend college classes, but found he just couldn't focus and concentrate. He has many symptoms of PTSD from having trouble driving to difficulty in focusing. He can't - he has some physical injuries. He has trouble, you know, carrying on phone conversations. He's been fighting terribly hard with this. It's interesting to me the way many young men and women who you talk to who've served and are grappling with PTSD, many times they are able to keep things together for a year or so after they get back. But the ripple effects of their experience don't hit them until sometimes much later, in very unexpected ways.
HANSEN: April Baer of Oregon Public Broadcasting. Her story will be broadcast next week when our four-week "Impact of War" series begins. April, thanks a lot.
BAER: My pleasure.
HANSEN: There is also a thread on our blog to share your stories about how the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have affected you or your community. Go to npr.org/soapbox.
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