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Kate Lord

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In this week’s photos from around New York, two dogs prepare for a ‘wedding,’ the Orchestre Septentrional performs in Brooklyn, Mayor Michael Bloomberg kisses Miss Piggy and more.


A woman received support from other bystanders at First Avenue and 119th Street. A 23-year-old armed robbery suspect was shot and killed Thursday by a retired New York Police Department lieutenant who happened upon a Harlem shootout, authorities said. (Rob Bennett for The Wall Street Journal)


Gwen Rakotovao, a 25-year-old dancer and model from France, got her makeup done by Michelle Coursen for a profile picture for the social-networking site Badoo. (Andrew Hinderaker for The Wall Street Journal)


Anonda Olchewsky, 6, looked at tortoises in the reptile house at the Bronx Zoo April 5. (Mark Abramson for The Wall Street Journal)


From left, halibut, mahi mahi, and tuna ceviche and popcorn with lemon oil at Pampano Botaneria on East 49th Street. (Agaton Strom for The Wall Street Journal)


Michel Tassy sang during the Orchestre Septentrional performance in Brooklyn April 7. The Orchestre Septentrional has been making music since 1948 and is perhaps Haiti’s quintessential big band. (Kate Lord/The Wall Street Journal)


A tablescape called ‘Harbor Island’ designed by Alessandra Branca was on view at the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House’s Annual Spring Gala Wednesday at Cipriani 42nd Street in Manhattan. (Claudio Papapietro for The Wall Street Journal)


Dingoes occupy the new dingo kennel at the Prospect Park Zoo in Brooklyn. (Ramsay de Give for The Wall Street Journal)


All three of New York’s public library systems are conducting or planning expansive renovations that reflect a shift in whom they serve, and how. Shown, the Queens Library’s Discovery Center, which opened last year. (Mark Abramson for The Wall Street Journal)


Braised Brussels sprouts, pancetta and oregano at Indie, a new cafe at the Film Society at Lincoln Center. (Kate Lord/The Wall Street Journa)


Filmmaker Jonas Mekas has a drink at Cafiero Lussier on East Second Street. (Ramsay de Give for The Wall Street Journal)


The smoked Gouda and fig grilled cheese sandwich at Say Cheese at 142 West 83rd St. in Manhattan. (Byron Smith for The Wall Street Journal)


Dogs Piper, left, and Boo, right, sat on either side of their owner, Orfeh, at Kleinfeld Bridal in Manhattan April 5. In mid-May, the two dogs will ‘wed’ at an event meant to bring awareness to animal adoption. (Rob Bennett)


New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg kissed Miss Piggy as Kermit the Frog watched at a news conference in New York Friday. Mr. Bloomberg announced the Muppets are the city’s official ‘Family Ambassadors,’ to encourage families to travel to the city. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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In 2003, Ian Welch was on his first combat tour in Iraq. As his battalion waited to storm the Diyala Bridge and seize Baghdad, an artillery shell struck the vehicle behind him, killing two soldiers and knocking Mr. Welch unconscious. When he came to, he was disoriented. His vision was blurred. Blood dripped from his ears. He helped gather the remains of the dead before heading out to take the bridge. He returned to Iraq twice more on combat tours.

Mr. Welch was later diagnosed with chronic PTSD and traumatic brain injury. He now lives in Dallas, Texas, with his girlfriend and government-paid caregiver, Katie Brickman. Every day, he faces the long-term effects of PTSD: bouts of amnesia, insomnia, anxiety, dizziness and vomiting.

Photographer Brandon Thibodeaux spent two months chronicling Mr. Welch’s struggles and with Wall Street Journal photo editors Matthew Craig (Executive Producer) and Kate Lord (Associate Producer), created the video below. This is Mr. Thibodeaux’s account. To read the story and see the complete interactive, click here.

* * * * *

I’ve come to think of Ian’s way of dealing with PTSD as a protective moat–a barrier he crosses only for doctor’s appointments, haircuts and other necessary outings.

When I was first assigned the story, I was planning on still photographs. But in the end we decided that the complexity of the story required much more, and I needed a different approach. I quickly learned that I needed ample time, as well as video and audio equipment to best tell Ian’s story.

Ian is someone who rarely steps outside of his structured life, so it was essential to gain his trust. In the end, Katie, his girlfriend, was key. She acts as his protector, making sure to blunt potential triggers to his PTSD. Katie studied photography and knew of the work of Tim Hetherington and other war photographers. She convinced Ian The Wall Street Journal project could be therapeutic.

Before I was assigned the story, I knew of PTSD as a combat disorder. After spending days with Ian and Katie, I learned of its long and tenacious grip on everyday life.

I felt it only fair to reveal my own vulnerabilities since Ian exposed so many of his. As a teenager, I underwent chemotherapy for a rare case of lymphoma cancer. While I didn’t face enemy fire or lose friends in a battle, it gave us a patch of common ground. I faced attacks from my own body. And when he described his anxiety and mood swings, it stoked memories of friends I had met at the hospital. I often wondered why I was allowed to survive and they were not. Even Katie’s role with Ian was reminiscent of how my parents must have managed, juggling appointments and providing support.

Once he allowed me access to his home, Ian, Katie, and I spent a lot of time together. It was important to become a part of his routine. Many days were quiet with little to photograph. Since Ian and Katie stayed up late, it made sense for me to stay overnight sometimes.

To understand his deeper, more personal thoughts, I asked Ian to read his journals, and to describe what he recalled from the injury on April 7, 2003. I felt horrible asking to hear such difficult memories. One night, as we finally felt comfortable enough to go over his combat experience, I had to help him walk back into the house. Katie didn’t know how to react when she saw how weak he was. It was a powerful reminder of how difficult it was for him to revisit the most painful parts of his past.

When the project was over, Ian was inundated by phone calls from loved ones. Katie couldn’t thank us enough for spending so much time with Ian and for capturing such an honest portrayal. Ian also talked about the project a lot and was more open to discussing his PTSD. I hope his story and video helps him hear those inner thoughts with better perspective. And I hope his story reaches and comforts others like him.

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Despite preparations by residents and tourists, Irene weakened from hurricane status to that of a tropical storm by the time it hit the New York region.

Michael and Lancs Walsh board up a friend’s house in Queens as Hurricane Irene made its way to New York, Saturday, Aug. 27. Some decided to pack up and head to safer and higher ground and others to wait it out. Residents of the lower-lying beach community were on evacuation orders as of 5pm Saturday evening. (Julie Platner for the Wall Street Journal)

Stephanie Munoz, 23, and her mother Celeste Miles walk along the beach to see the stormy ocean one last time before going back inside to wait out the impending hurricane in Queens, Aug. 27. (Julie Platner for the Wall Street Journal)

Jonathan Fey paddles his way down Nassau Ave in Freeport, N.Y., after Tropical Storm Irene flooded the neighborhood, Sunday, Aug. 28. (Joel Cairo for The Wall Street Journal)

Residents of Freeport make their way through the street Sunday. (Joel Cairo for the Wall Street Journal)

Pat Sterner stands in a few inches of water in her home after her Freeport neighborhood was flooded. (Joel Cairo for the Wall Street Journal)

A fallen tree blocks Bedford Avenue near North 12th Street in Brooklyn on the morning Tropical Storm Irene hit the city. (Mustafah Abdulaziz for The Wall Street Journal)

Flood waters overtake a gas station on 23rd Street and FDR Drive, Sunday, Aug. 28 in Manhattan. (Rob Bennett for The Wall Street Journal)

Darren Renatta and his mother, Beth, investigate East River flood waters Sunday. (Rob Bennett for The Wall Street Journal)

Peter Falsetta, 58, and Thomas Kim, 46, overlook the Upper Bay from near the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, Sunday morning, as the eye of Tropical Storm Irene was thought to passing over Coney Island. Kim has lived in Bay Ridge for 20 years, and Falsetta has spent his life here. Neither could recall seeing the water level so high. (Claudio Papapietro for The Wall Street Journal)

Glenn Sanchez of Tampa, Florida, plays softball in Times Square Sunday after the brunt of the storm had passed. Sanchez is a member of Elite Fire Softball, a team competing at the World Police and Fire Games 2011. The team’s Sunday game was postponed due to the storm. (Kate Lord/The Wall Street Journal)

Civilians take photos and videos of the New York Army National Guard 206th Military Police Company, based out of Latham, New York, as they leave New York City Aug. 28. The 206th arrived on the afternoon of Aug. 27 to help with Hurricane Irene damage, however the storm caused less damage than originally anticipated. The company was being moved to Farmingdale, New York, where they were going to regroup and receive new orders. (Andrew Burton for The Wall Street Journal)

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