Alum Doug Hickey, ’15, will spend a year abroad helping veterans struggling with their mental health, a topic he is deeply passionate about.
“Growing up in a small rural community with a strong culture of service in the armed forces, I thought of the many classmates, friends, and relatives who joined the service after turning 18,” Hickey said. Some of them died, “[and] in over half of these cases, the fallen soldier had not died overseas, but on the battlefield at home by their own hands.”
Hickey will travel to Australia, Czech Republic, Japan, South Korea, and Vietnam. He will study the psychological effects of war on combat veterans, according to the UC website. His travel is funded by The Charles Rice Postgraduate Research Fellowship.
The new fellowship honors former Ursinus chaplain Rev. Charles Rice’s passion for assisting students in their faith, lives, and careers, while providing them tools to analyze social injustice. As a way to keep Rice’s influence alive and inspire others to pursue justice in the world, the fellowship granted two alumni $15,000 each to study abroad and research topics of their choosing, and then publish a manuscript after their year-long adventure ends.
The other recipient, Roseangela Hartford ‘18, will observe and work with organizations throughout Peru, Bolivia and the Dominican Republic to investigate how religious-affiliated institutions aid in the healing process for women who have survived domestic and sexual violence, and their families.
Hickey discussed his undergraduate life at Ursinus and his future plans for the project.He aims to discover the psychological impacts of war and Moral Injury (MI) on combat veterans. “I plan to work with various institutions and researchers to reconstruct the current conceptual models of MI to adequately address the inherent spiritual component that is indivisible from the condition,” Hickey explained.
Hickey said his main goals are “to refine the current understanding of the spiritual component of MI, [and] under the tutelage of Dr. Edward Tick, [he] will study and facilitate psycho-spiritual, cross-cultural, and international community-based reconciliation practices.”
Hickey described the different types of work he would being doing during his year.
“[I will be] facilitating various retreats, workshops, institutes and programs with Soldier’s Heart, a spiritual faith-based nonprofit organization whose mission is to ‘transform the emotional, moral, and spiritual wounds that often result from military service,’ culminating in a humanitarian, serviced-based journey of reconciliation and transformation through Japan, Korea, and Vietnam,” he said.
In Australia and the Czech Republic, Hickey’s plans will be more “research and academically based, while the Healing Retreat through Japan, Vietnam and South Korea will be largely experientially based.”
Hickey was a Psychology and Philosophy double major and minored in Neuroscience. He was “involved in a little bit of everything” at Ursinus, and said that Rev. Charles Rice had a major impact on his life, like he did many students. Through talking with Rev. and developing a relationship with him, “every conversation [they] would have would circle back to social institutions and systems of injustice.” When Hickey heard about the fellowship, he “felt as though applying for it would not only allow [him] to pursue something that [he is] very passionate about, but also to have the opportunity to honor the impact that Rev. had on the Ursinus community.”
Given his childhood experiences, Hickey felt it was his duty “to serve [wounded soldiers and those who passed] as they have served us—with selflessness, honor and integrity.”
Hickey is excited to contribute to MI research about veterans and to travel the world while also helping people, and the Ursinus community looks forward to reading his manuscript on the journeys.