Laura Stephens


Served in: Army, 2002-2007.

Deployed to: Iraq (2003, 2005).

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The Other Lasting Trauma

The next frontier in mental-health studies of veterans is the relationship between PTSD and traumatic brain injury, or TBI, signaled by $100 million in research funding set aside for that subject by Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense in September. Read more »

The trauma: “On my second deployment, I was the only medic who had combat experience, so I was the one taking care of the unit. Every single day, six days out of the week, I was going out on missions with EOD [explosive ordnance disposal], infantry, tankers, the military police, to make sure they were cared for. Engineers and EOD are the ones who go out and find the IEDs and destroy them. So, working with them, I got blown up on a daily basis.”

The aftermath: “There was one incident where I went with my ex-husband to a drawing that he was having at his gym. We were only supposed to be there for a few minutes, but I didn’t realize how many people there were going to be. It was elbow to elbow. This poor girl fell and bumped into me, and my instant reaction was, I swung at her. Thankfully, I caught myself right as I was going to hit her, and I just ended up tapping her on the shoulder. But it was enough that I got so embarrassed, and I didn’t want to get into trouble, so I just said, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry,’ and ran out and sat in the car.”

Today: “Once I get settled into my house, I want to go to school to be an auto mechanic, so that way I can work on my own car, help my friends out and use my GI bill for something productive. … I actually am an avid knitter. That’s how I met most of my friends here. We have a knitting group called Sin City Hookers, because there’s knitters and crocheters. I found them on, and I have made some really good friends who I think that, even if we move, we’ll still remain in contact. They all are aware of my PTSD, and when we meet in public places, they let me pick my seat and vent about things that bother me. They’ve been really, really good to me.”

Suggested Next Read

The Economics of the Ride

The Economics of the Ride

By David G. Schwartz

Jerry Jones is jealous. He’s been making noise about luring the National Finals Rodeo away from Las Vegas to fill his ultramodern 80,000-seat Cowboys Stadium near Dallas. And Las Vegas stadium proponents, in turn, have argued that the only way Las Vegas can hold onto NFR long-term is to build a massive stadium of our own. Right now, for instance, the NFR-saving plan du jour is UNLV Now, a campus makeover that includes a 60,000-seat stadium. Something to be said for being vigilant, but NFR to Dallas is anything but a done deal.