Tuesday, October 12, 2004

A Refresher Course In Why War Always Looks A Lot Cooler On CNN Than It Actually Is 


After serving a 12-month tour of duty in Iraq last year, Marine Lance Corporal Jeff Lucey returned home to his relieved family with no injuries – or at least none that were visible. “When we didn’t see him tremendously traumatized when he returned, we thought, 'Oh, thank god,'” says his father, Kevin Lucey. “And then it exploded.”

For months the 23-year-old battled his wartime demons; nightmares, bouts of depression and anxiety, and crushing guilt – classic symptoms of acute post-traumatic stress.

“He told me he was a murderer,” says Jeff’s sister, Debra. “He said, 'Don’t you understand? Your brother’s a murderer.’”

On June 22, 2004, Jeff Lucey lost his battle. He hanged himself from a rafter in the cellar of his family home.

…Acosta believes that the American public does not understand the enormity of this war’s toll. “People hear ‘injured’ … but they don’t realize that ‘injured’ is missing both his hands, or his legs, or whatever,” he says.

Double amputations, crushed spines, and severely disfiguring burns were some of the physical trauma Dr. Gene Bolles saw on a daily basis as the chief neurosurgeon at Landstuhl Hospital in Germany. The average age of the soldiers he treated was 19 and a half – just kids, he says, who put their lives on the line not for abstract concepts of patriotism, but for the powerful bonds of camaraderie.

“Kids don’t go to war and put themselves in danger for the good of the country, or anything else,” says Bolles, a civilian doctor who is also a Vietnam veteran. "They go there because they’ve learned to love their buddies … And when they get hurt, they feel guilty because they’re hurt and they can’t be there for their unit. It’s an intense training process. And all of a sudden, it’s over. They’re hurt, they’re wounded, they’re out of the service and it’s over. And that, in and of itself, is very traumatic.”

Real Costs Of War Are Hidden

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