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This veteran found healing through faith and community service

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Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a common affliction among U.S veterans. For one Ashe County local, this trauma has been a lifelong struggle.

John Longo is a retired 66-year-old U.S Air Force veteran who served in Vietnam and has been stationed in countries all over the world, including Thailand, Japan, and Saudi Arabia, to name a few.

All this time serving in the military made adjusting to domestic life very challenging for Longo. It brought on a divorce with his first wife and a complicated relationship with his children. Despite the struggles Longo has experienced, he finds healing through his faith in God, his relationship with nature, and his dedication to community service.

Longo feels compelled to be a servant towards others. He volunteers with Musicians Mission of Mercy, a volunteer organization in West Jefferson dedicated to providing those in need with life essentials in the Ashe community. He also aims to help veterans like him by opening an equine center, so they can find therapy with horses.

This documentary was shot for Carolina Photojournalism Week, a week-long program at The UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media. This course allows students to travel to small towns in rural North Carolina where they make documentaries on local members of the community. They are accompanied by professional photojournalists who help coach them in the filmmaking process. Students work on these projects 24/7, and on the final night, they hold a public screening for the community to view their work. 

Chase Cofield

Chase Cofield was a 2021 summer fellow at EducationNC.