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Mother of Local Fallen Soldier Reflects on Iraq War

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The Iraq War wounded more than 32,000 of our service men and women, while taking the lives of 4,488. One of them was 20-year-old Corporal Jason Pautsch.

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013 marked 10 years since the U.S. invaded Iraq. The day comes just three weeks before Teri Johnson will observe her son's death. CPL Pautsch was killed in action on April 10th, 2009 in Mosul, Iraq.

"Certaintly when it's quiet, I think about him all the time, every day," Teri told News 8's Angie Sharp on Tuesday. "But I think he would be more proud of us that we focus on the mission."

Since that day, Teri has turned her grief into giving back by creating the non-profit organization - Jason's Box - which gives the community opportunities to put together care packages for troops deployed overseas.

"I was given a chest, an heirloom chest as a gift, and that was the inspiration for me to start Jason's Box," says Teri.

Inside the box are mementos of Jason like toys and t-shirts, as well as letters and other items sent to Teri by others nearly four years ago.

But was the Iraq War worth it? It's a question many have tried to answer since the end of the Iraq War, but Teri says she won't.

"If they did not go to war, we could have worse problems here."

Instead, she says it's disappointing that the wars have gone on this long.

"We're going to pay a price for that," says Teri. "We are paying a price for that... a steep price in more ways than one."

However, Teri's pain is also her strength to keep the mission in mind and support our soldiers the way they support us - whether it was in the last 100 years, 10 years, or today.

"It's because I'm a mom and I think of them as I would my own sons."

Care packages from Jason's Box are usually customized to each soldier with items they miss from home. Teri says she has sent everything from shower heads to pillows to protein powder to running shoes. The organization is also expanding its mission to develop services to help our soldiers when they come home.