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Rowing for Shore With Sinking Ships All Around

Sergeant Jacob B. and Heidi P. were childhood friends and high school sweethearts. After graduation, their lives went in different directions. They each married and had daughters.

Jacob joined the army, served out his term and then remained in the Individual Ready Reserves (IRR). In 2006, he was recalled to active duty and served 12 months in Iraq. Heidi reconnected with him on MySpace while he was overseas. They rekindled their relationship and became engaged.

Jacob was discharged in 2007 and returned to Houston, Texas to be with Heidi and to be close to his daughter. He suffered from severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) but he failed to receive adequate care and treatment at the Veterans Administration Hospital. He committed suicide on December 9, 2007. He was 26.

I met Heidi through a contact while researching PTSD for a photography project. Their story puts a face on the issue of PTSD and the difficulties that some soldiers have adjusting when they return home from a combat zone. It also highlights the tragedy of suicide—those who are left behind wondering why.

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> If only I were the astronaut I dreamt of as a boy.