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The Uncounted Casualties of War

Posted on Aug 1, 2007

By Amy Goodman

U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Jeffrey Lucey is not counted among the Iraq war dead. But he did die, when he came home. He committed suicide. His parents are suing the Department of Veterans Affairs and R. James Nicholson, the secretary of veterans affairs, for wrongful death, medical malpractice and other damages.

    Kevin and Joyce Lucey saw their son’s rapid descent after he returned from combat in Iraq in June 2003. Kevin said: “Hallucinations started with the visual, the audio, tactile. He would talk about hearing camel spiders in his room at night, and he actually had a flashlight under his bed, which he could use to search for the camel spiders. His whole life was falling apart.”

    Jeffrey told his family that he was ordered to execute two Iraqi prisoners of war. After he killed the two men, Jeffrey took their dog tags and wore them until Christmas Eve 2003, when he threw them at his sister, calling himself a murderer. A military investigation concluded the story is without merit, but Kevin Lucey says: “An agency investigating itself, I have a lot of problems with that. We fully believe our son.” Joyce Lucey added: “It really, to us, didn’t make a difference what caused Jeffrey’s PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder]. We know that he came back different, so something happened to him over there.”

    Jeffrey got worse, secluding himself in his room, watching TV and drinking heavily. Jeffrey was reluctant to seek care, fearing the stigma that he felt accompanied mental-health treatment. Finally, on May 28, 2004, the Luceys had Jeffrey involuntarily committed. The Veterans Affairs hospital released him after three days.

    On June 5, 2004, Jeffrey had deteriorated significantly. His sisters and grandfather brought him back to the VA. Joyce said the VA “decided that he wasn’t saying what he needed to say to get involuntarily committed. Later we were to find out that they never called a psychiatrist or anybody that could have evaluated him. And they have this all on the record. It said that the grandfather was pleading for his grandson to be admitted.”


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    The Luceys later learned from staff notes that Jeffrey talked about three ways to commit suicide. His father explained: “He told them that he would suffocate himself, he would overdose or he would hang himself. He also shared with the psychiatrist how he had bought a hose. And, of course, on June 5, when we tried to admit him the second time and the VA declined, Joyce and I went through the house, we took everything that he could hurt himself with, but we never thought of a hose.”

    Turned back by the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Jeffrey spent his last two weeks alive at home. Kevin Lucey describes the night before his son killed himself: “It was about 11:30 at night, and I was exhausted, Jeff was exhausted. He asked me if he would be able to sit in my lap. And so for 45 minutes we rocked in silence, and the therapist told us after Jeff died that that was no doubt his last place of refuge, his last safe harbor that he felt that he could go to.”

    The next evening, after returning home from work, Kevin raced inside: “I went to his bedroom, and the one thing I noted was that his dog tags were laying on his bed.” He made his way to the cellar, where he found his son Jeffrey dead, a hose double-looped around his neck.

    Three years later, his parents have filed suit. They are not alone. A separate class-action suit was filed by Veterans for Common Sense and Veterans United for Truth on behalf of hundreds of thousands of veterans who have been denied medical benefits.

    Jeffrey Lucey’s suicide note begins, “Dear Mom and Dad, I cannot express my apologies in words for the pain I have caused you but I beg for your forgiveness. I want you to know that I loved you both and still do but the pain of life was too much for me to deal with.”

    Supporting the troops means taking care of them when they return home.

    Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 500 stations in North America.

  © 2007 Amy Goodman

  Distributed by King Features Syndicate

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By the pre, August 15, 2007 at 8:11 pm Link to this comment

45 minutes

1 lap

a place of refuge

peace, love, and comfort

God sent.

James 1:17

an empire’s insanity

5 plus years

a million plus dead

a place of chaos

war, hatred, and guilt


Hebrews 10:30-31

The Father’s Love and Judgment

the end of time

2 Books

myriad of souls


for some a place of peace in everlasting life and

for others a time of fiery and utter destruction

the ultimate reality

Revelation 20:15

the unfortunate irony

the young soldier was probably the most balanced (mentally healthy) when he asked his father if he might sit in his lap.


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By Douglas Chalmers, August 12, 2007 at 9:34 pm Link to this comment

Quote Amy Goodman: “Kevin and Joyce Lucey saw their son’s rapid descent after he returned from combat in Iraq….... “Hallucinations started with the visual, the audio, tactile. He would talk about hearing camel spiders in his room at night, and he actually had a flashlight under his bed…... His whole life was falling apart…”

This is stress - and stress causes hormonal changes in the brain as well as fatigue. Then again, soldiers also suffer from recurring chronic fatigue - which also causes hormonal changes in the brain. After that, life really does become a misery if the “condition” is not treated properly.

Then there are the psychological issues of (a) living in a ‘civilized’ society but having been trained to kill, and (b) going to other peoples’ countries not as a tourist but as a killer. None of these things or their associated feelings can ever be truthfully reconciled with “serving one’s country”. Consequently, attempting to reconcile a lie, or living in a lie, leads to the kinds of pressures which push a person to take their own life…...

Then, there are the consequences for the family. One is that, knowing the way police think and act, the family could be accused of murder. At least, they will be described as “witnesses” and be under official suspicion, possibly for years, and there could even be official accusations. Then there is the coroner. Nothing is straightforward - and never will be again.

Sorry about your son, Kevin and Joyce Lucey.

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By Theresa Isidro, August 12, 2007 at 6:44 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thank you so much, Amy.

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By Dan Uu Noel, August 8, 2007 at 5:09 pm Link to this comment

How does the federal government find hundreds of billions of dollars to throw at these useless wars without finding a few hundred million dollars to properly treat their veterans?
Colin Powell’s famed phrase, “you break it, you own it,” applies very well to the Iraq fiasco; but why not apply it to returning troops?
And, while we are at it, how about raising the question of psychological care for Iraqi civilians? With millions of them refugees and those remaining unsure of whether they will live one more month, couldn’t they also use some mental health care?

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By YIKES, August 8, 2007 at 8:04 am Link to this comment

Thank you once again Amy.

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By Gusto, August 5, 2007 at 10:28 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Amy has usual is did a great job informing the public of the truth of war. The american people have gotten used to see war as some aircraft firing off a “smart bomb” that goes through a window, but never saw the victims, so therefore, did not give two biscuits of the consecuences of war. The american corporate media in its efforts to sell the war has ommited the gruesome scenes of war under the claim “to sanitize the war”. You cannot sanitize a war; war is about killing, destruction and suffering, period. This current administration didn’t even wanted us to see pictures of the coffins returning from the wafr as if no one was dying over there. This is supposed to be the country were freedom of information is one of our greatest achievements. The more seriuos thing about this war, is that the people that placed our children and loves one in Iraq are a gang of cowards whom NEVER SERVED this nation in any capacity other than politics, yet they love to call themselves “patriot and hawks”.

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By Denise, August 5, 2007 at 10:13 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I cried when I read this article.  The tears kicked in when Kevin described holding his grown son in his lap for forty-five minutes in order to comfort him.  Can you imagine the terror that must have flowed through that father as he tried to comfort his child knowing that he couldn’t help what ailed his son? 
I have two young boys and I cuddle them daily because I know one day, when they’re grown, they won’t need that anymore.  Or will they?
People who don’t think there are mental reprecussions of war should be sent over to Iraq to experience it themselves.

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By B Ayres, August 3, 2007 at 7:57 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It is unfortunate that the larger population of the U.S. needs stories like this before they see that war has no benefit for the people.  Has anyone ever raised the question of requiring 2/3 of the U.S. population to vote for war before we enter into conflict?  I still doubt that I would support any war even if something like that was added to our defunct Constitution, but at least I would feel that the soldiers that are thrown to the wolves -that we’ve created -are thier because of us rather than because of the rich looking to get richer.  We have lost our souls to improving our individual lives rather than improving the human condition.

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By Douglas Chalmers, August 3, 2007 at 1:33 am Link to this comment

#91878 by CitizenDefender on 8/02 at 11:14 pm: “...War is not a required part of the human experience….”

So very true,  CitizenDefender.

Why then has mankind chosen war as a means of striving and sacrifice in his journey? Each lesson of this kind must only ever be rewarded by failure. Again, why has mankind chose a path of repeated inevitable failures instead of “the primrose path the peace and happiness and prosperity”???

Perhaps taking from others is still an acceptable means of providing an illusion of prosperity and a fantasy of happiness? At what stage will a path of sharing and co-operation be adhered to instead? Is it that disaster is to always be guaranteed by blind ignorance or will mankind take a step into the light before it really does become too late for the human race?

Even if an all-out war is not indulged in, the costs of adhering to a path of continual deprivation for some and selfish excess for others with all of its attendant costs in industrial slavery and environmental pollution will certainly virtually drown us all. The time to change is now!

#91777 by Bobby Taylor on 8/02 at 2:26 pm (Unregistered commenter)” “...It seems like we are caught up in a vicious cycle of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of destruction to be able to maintain Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  The single biggest threat to all life on earth today is Iran and their nuclear program….”

What a hypocritical and deceptive combination of lies and truth, BT. As a result, both are distortions and the purpose is scheming manipulation. The Bushehr nuclear energy plant in Iran is being built and commissioned by the Russians. What has Iran done to displease you?

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By CitizenDefender, August 3, 2007 at 12:14 am Link to this comment

War is not a required part of the human experience.

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By Bill Larsen, August 2, 2007 at 3:27 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As a combat veteran rated as 100& disabled by the V.A., I spent many yars as a psychotherapist working with post-traumatic veterans of Vietnam and our other—smaller—wars.  But no war is small to the soldier or civilian brutalized in it, and the vets I treated suffered for years what my wife calls our conutry’s “instant amnesia” of veterans’ needs, once the fighting has stopped.  My heart bleeds for Jeffrey Lucey and his parents, and I support any and all efforts to force our government to fulfill its sworn obligation to its disabled vets. 

HOWEVER, if we truly want to “support the troops”, our primary goal must be to NEVER involve then in avaricious, ill-conceived, unilaterally declared wars waged outside the guidance of the democratic process.  Unfortunately, the only venue in which this can occur when the government has been co-opted by a single arm of the government is no longer the ballot box but the streets.  The greatest shame of the Iraqi War is the fact that the American public so wholeheartedly backed this immoral invasion that has so decimated the honor of this country, and ravaged the bodies and families of so many in the human family, Iraqi and American alike…..........William Larsen

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By Bobby Taylor, August 2, 2007 at 3:26 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It seems like we are caught up in a vicious cycle of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of destruction to be able to maintain Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  The single biggest threat to all life on earth today is Iran and their nuclear program.

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By Richard Harlos, August 2, 2007 at 2:26 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

All living things on this planet will die or be in wheel chairs. Depleted Uranium will kill us for 4.5 billion years. This planet is under self- destruct. It is a matter of time. We are very sad that most of us will live to see it. The stupid jelly-bellied population did it to themselves by doing nothing to stop the idiots. You have your 40 hour week, and your six-pack, and ball games. Enjoy it while you can. The DU has traveled over 50,000 miles, heading for every country in the world. You let them kill you. Get our Constitution back. We still have a chance. A slim one. But a chance.

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By Chaseme, August 2, 2007 at 9:24 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

#91514 by vet240 on 8/01 at 3:41 pm

Bravo! Very well done.

Your comment reminded me of the film I saw about the USS Indianapolis.

Here’s the link to that story:

When will America abandon the killing business?

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By Leefeller, August 2, 2007 at 8:12 am Link to this comment

We will not see stories like this in the mass media for the obvious, control by special interests. Feed the masses pablum, that is why we have the Fox Not the news.

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By weather, August 2, 2007 at 6:43 am Link to this comment

Send Israel the bill

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By Douglas Chalmers, August 2, 2007 at 12:55 am Link to this comment

The failure of the media to tell stories such as Salee’s has deprived the American people of the ability make informed judgments about US foreign policy -

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By SamSnedegar, August 1, 2007 at 8:54 pm Link to this comment

I wish we knew exactly how many soldiers and Marines have died as a result of combat wounds, including psychological ones which cause the death of the victim in one way or another. I understand that the number we are permitted to hear and examine doesn’t even include those who are evacuated to hospital and die there instead of on the battlefield, and it certainly doesn’t include people like Jeff Lucey, who is dead because he went to Iraq.

I might countenance the war if it could save the USA from bankruptcy, but it cannot; it only will put off the denouement for a few years, and then we will still be bankrupt and have our depression, our Argentina (don’t cry for us?), or our Enron.

Jeff Lucey died for his country just as surely as any decorated and bemedaled soldier, but democracy died in the USA and its demise went as unheralded as Cpl Lucey’s. In case you wonder when it died, it happened in December of 2000 when the US Supreme Court made a horrific and unjustified decision to install a moron into the white house.

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By Mayfly, August 1, 2007 at 8:47 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

what vet240 says fits what I know.  My husband was a combat vet of WW 11 (the “good” war.)  He slept with a gun under his pillow and woke in a sweat when a jet broke the sound barrier over our house.

He believed (and he was right) that war is the failure and shame of nations’ leaders.

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By vet240, August 1, 2007 at 4:41 pm Link to this comment

War is synonymous with insanity, different words meaning the same thing.

Men who go to war do so thinking they know what war is. That is based on their training which includes killing games, shooting at targets.

I came home from basic training proud of the fact I could kill a person from 3-400 meters with an open sight. Fortunately, I never had to do the real thing.

The real thing is about watching or causing another human being to disintegrate before your eyes. An explosion of flesh and blood. Other times it’s about watching one of your own go through the same thing.

Asking our young to go and sacrifice their sanity for our protection should only be done in a defensive posture.

Unfortunately, for the past several decades our leaders have put our youth in harms way for needless reasons that have more to do with the military/industrial complex and the need for expansionist emperialism than the defence of our nation.

These wars have and will continue to exact an unknown cost on our citizens. Both those who go and fight and those who wait for their loved ones to return.

Generals profit from war. They shrink in peace-time. Generals should not be the ones to decide when, where or how we defend this nation. That decision must be made by those who do the fighting and waiting.

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