Jeffrey Lucey is one of the thousands of service members who took their own lives after fighting in the war on Iraq. LCPL Lucey served with the USMC during the initial invasion of Iraq, and he returned home a different person. Although his visible scars were limited his hidden scars ran deep, and after being home for four months he hung himself in his parents' cellar on June 22, 2004.
For Jeffrey, the true cost of the war on Iraq was not taken in the sands of the desert but taken right here at home. Jeffrey’s parents turned their grief into action and now are active members of Military Families Speak Out, a group working to the end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to make sure our service members are taken care of when they return home. His death is another notch in the human life lost during these wars.
Another service member, who asked to remain anonymous, told the story of dealing with his own personal trauma as such. "Everywhere I went I worried, I was constantly checking out every person to make sure I knew... My anxiety was through the roof at all times. Everything brought me back".
Thankfully, the suicide attempted failed, but there are thousands who don't fail. It's estimated that for every soldier killed in action, another two kill themselves at home.
Yet, our worst offensive to our service members is the repeated deployment of those who suffer from trauma. One-third of all service members will experiences some level of trauma in their deployments overseas, and most will be sent back on a second, third or even fourth deployment. We are refusing to give those who we supposedly hold up on the highest pedestal, the right to heal. The right to treat their trauma may it be from MST, PTSD, or TBI, should be the right of every service member, instead we send them through the cycle again and again.
As the generals sit around and tell you how wonderfully the wars are going, think of who is doing the hard labor for these generals. Who is bearing the greatest risk? Military suicides are caused by fighting these wars, and until we stop fighting in these wars suicides rates will keep going up.
Our soldiers and veterans are not only dying out of country they are dying in our own country. We must work to get them all home so those who need help can get it. The scars of war are always deep, but they are not always visible.
Robby Diesu is a member of Civilian-Solider Alliance, a group of civilians who work with active-duty service members and veterans on Operation Recovery. The goal of Operation Recovery is to stop the deployment of traumatized troops.