July 27, 2007
Family of Veteran Sues VA for Suicide
23-year-old Marine Jeffrey Lucey returned from service in Iraq and was, according to allegations in a lawsuit filed Thursday, denied mental health coverage by the VA. Not long afterward, he committed suicide, and his family has filed suit against the government and Jim Nicholson, the outgoing VA chief, alleging negligence.
According to the complaint, Lance Cpl. Jeffrey Lucey began to experience difficulties several months after returning home from Iraq.
He had nightmares, daily bouts of vomiting and began drinking heavily. Depression soon set in.
He told his sister he had "a rope and tree picked out" behind the family home and needed to keep a flashlight by his bed to check for "camel spiders" he heard at night.
His parents took him to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Northampton and he was involuntarily committed for help. He was released a few days later after VA personnel said they couldn't make an assessment of his post-traumatic stress disorder until he was alcohol free, said the complaint.
A few days later, his family took Lucey back to the center, but the lawsuit says the staff turned him away. Kevin Lucey found his son dead, hanging from a beam in the cellar two weeks later.
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