“I could spend all day browsing in bookstores,” says the former Army Reserve specialist. “It’s my favorite thing to do.” But it has been four years since the Minnesota native has been in a bookstore — or any kind of shop. Since she returned from Iraq in 2005, her panic attacks have been so sever, she can no longer leave her house outside Minneapolis. The attacks started when she rode city buses — “they sounded like a Humvee,” explains the woman, who asked that her name not be used for privacy reasons. That rumbling set off hideous flashbacks to her time in Iraq, where she crisscrossed the country in canvas-sided Humvees doing convoys as a turret gunner. “It was one of the most dangerous things you can do,” she says. Although she had no emotional trouble while carrying out her unit’s missions, eight months after she returned home, the panic attacks started; then she became haunted by nightmares of her wounded buddies — and of injured Iraqi civilians — and fell into a despair she still cannot escape.
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