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Poignant story of daughter’s caregiving for oldest WWII veteran

Vanessa Brooks poses for a portrait with her father, Lawrence Brooks, in his room at their home in New Orleans, Sept. 8, 2021. Lawrence Broooks is the oldest living U.S. World War II veteran; for the past 13 years, his daughter has been his primary caregiver, providing round-the-clock attention. (AP Photo / Kathleen Flynn)

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Leah Willingham, a corps member in Jackson, Mississippi, for the AP/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative, chronicled the struggle to care for Lawrence Brooks, who at 112 is now the oldest American World War II veteran.

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A World WarII-era photo of Lawrence Brooks is displayed at his home in New Orleans, Sept. 8, 2021. – AP Photo / Kathleen Flynn

The story came about after Deep South correspondent Rebecca Santana received an email about a GoFundMe set up to help Brooks’ daughter care for him. Willingham’s sensitive and respectful reporting style helped establish a level of trust with Vanessa Brooks, who eventually felt comfortable telling her father’s story and she struggles to care for him. The result was a touching tribute to a daughter doing her best in cificult circumstances.

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Lawrence Brooks waves to a neighbor as his daughter Vanessa sits on the porch of their home in New Orleans, Sept. 8, 2021. – AP Photo / Kathleen Flynn

The story, accompanied by Kathleen Flynn’s intimate photos of Brooks and his daughter at home, received strong online play and was featured prominently in The Atlanta Journal Constitution print edition.

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