Nov 12, 2012 - Steven Lancaster said he felt like he was doing “humanitarian work” while serving as a combat engineer in Iraq in 2004.
The National Guard member was called overseas during his senior year of college to seek out and dispose of ordnance and munitions that littered that country’s landscape following multiple wars.
The convoys he rode in were constantly aware of the need to avoid enemy IEDs (improvised explosive devices), but heavy combat was never a factor for him and he got the privilege of blowing things up before they did damage to innocent Iraqis or his comrades-in-arms.
“I thought it was awesome,” said Lancaster, now 31 years old and a professor of psychology at Drake University. “But some guys who had been full of life just changed while we were there. That really struck me. I wasn’t struggling and most of us weren’t having negative reactions, but about 10 percent did. Now I know the research that says it isn’t about events themselves. It is something about how events are understood by someone.”
Lancaster is talking about post-traumatic stress syndrome. After returning home from almost a year in Iraq, the Valley High School graduate completed his undergraduate degree at Bethel University in Minneapolis and was accepted into a doctoral program at the University of Southern Illinois to learn more about the trauma some of his fellow soldiers faced. read more>>>