The controversy over the film American Sniper has raised issues of Iraq War veterans and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in the public eye. A new book, The Wounds Within, by Mark Nickerson and Joshua Goldstein, deals with this issue and tells the story of Jeff Lucey, a veteran of the Iraq War who came back suffering from PTSD and eventually committed suicide. It is a very poignant and moving story.
Jeff said he had been forced to commit war crimes in Iraq by his superiors, including the murder of unarmed Iraqi civilians, which traumatized him. He told his sister, "Your brother is a murderer." When he got home he began drinking heavily and getting into trouble, and was unable to get any meaningful help from the VA. The book also tells the gripping story of how his family went on a crusade after his death both to oppose the Iraq War and to get help for other veterans like Jeff suffering from PTSD.
This has become an iconic story of the Iraq war, and Jeff Lucey's story has been featured on PBS Frontline and other media outlets. Since his death, and a VA investigation prompted by Senator John Kerry, the VA has changed its rules and guidelines to offer more outreach and help to vets like Jeff through the Vet Centers and VA hospitals. The book also outlines an innovative treatment method called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) psychotherapy, which has helped many veterans with PTSD.
Mark Nickerson is a psychotherapist in Massachusetts who treated Jeff Lucey as well as other veterans. Joshua Goldstein is Professor Emeritus of International Relations at American University, and has written many books on war and peace issues. Together, they have produced a book which director Oliver Stone, himself a Vietnam veteran, has called "A powerful family drama and a reminder of the price veterans pay long after the fighting ends." It is also a reminder of the price that veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan are still paying today.