Court reporters interview veterans for the record

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Vietnam-era Army veteran Don Fernstrom of Maple Grove described his military service for the Library of Congress Veterans History Project to interviewer Karen Larson, court reporter Nancy Gisch at the laptop and videographer Kyle Peterson on Saturday, November 9th, 2013 in Minneapolis at Paradigm Court Reporting and Captioning. MPR photo/Dan Olson

Eleven Minnesota military veterans will add their accounts of wartime service to the Library of Congress Veterans History Project with the help of Paradigm Court Reporting and Captioning.  You can hear a profile of one them, Don Fernstrom of Maple Grove, in a new episode of Minnesota  Sounds and Voices as part of All Things Considered.

Every year for four years, the Minneapolis firm donates time and people to gather the accounts. Company president Jan Ballman, president-elect of the National Court Reporters Foundation says the group has helped arrange recordings of thousands of accounts submitted to the Library of Congress.

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Jan Ballman, president, Paradigm Court Reporting and Captioning and her staff interviewed veterans to have their wartime accounts submitted to the Library of Congress Veterans' History Project, on November 9th, 2013, in Minneapolis. MPR photo/Dan Olson

The rapidly diminishing number of World War II veterans has prompted interviewers to focus attention on that group. But this year, the eleven interviewed by Paradigm volunteers also included veterans who served in Korea, Vietnam and the Gulf.

Sample some of the Library of Congress interviews online and as you'd expect, there is a wide range of stories and experiences including life and death wartime encounters.  Many of the interviewers are volunteers.  Some of the veterans are giving their accounts for the first time.

Don Fernstrom, a Minneapolis attorney, says when he returned from Vietnam in 1967 he was in turmoil for four years  as he dealt with symptoms of PTSD, post traumatic stress syndrome.  Fernstrom says people didn't know much about the war and didn't appear interested in his wartime experiences.

Forty years later, Fernstrom is back in touch with members of his artillery unit and says now, more people thank him for his service. It's a departure from what he encountered on his return from Vietnam to a country deeply divided by the war.

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