When we ask young men and women to go to war, what are we asking of them? When their deployments end and they return—many of them changed forever—how do they recover some facsimile of normalcy? MacArthur award-winning author David Finkel discusses the struggling veterans chronicled in his deeply affecting book, Thank You for Your Service with Skip Rizzo, Director for Medical Virtual Reality at the Institute for Creative Technologies at USC—who has pioneered the use of virtual reality-based exposure therapy to treat veterans suffering from PTSD.
*Presented in association with The L.A. Odyssey Project
David Finkel is the award-winning author of The Good Soldiers. A staff writer for The Washington Post, he is also the leader of the Post’s national reporting team. Finkel received the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting in 2006, and the MacArthur “Genius” Grant in 2012. He lives in Maryland with his wife and two daughters.
Albert “Skip” Rizzo is a clinical psychologist and Director of Medical Virtual Reality at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies. He is also a research professor with the USC Deptartment of Psychiatry and at the USC Davis School of Gerontology. Rizzo conducts research on the design, development and evaluation of Virtual Reality systems targeting the areas of clinical assessment, treatment and rehabilitation across the domains of psychological, cognitive and motor functioning in both healthy and clinical populations. This work has focused on PTSD, TBI, Autism, ADHD, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke and other clinical conditions. In his spare time, he listens to music, rides his motorcycle and thinks about new ways that VR can have a positive impact on clinical care by dragging the field of psychology, kickin’ and screamin’, into the 21st Century.
Thomas Curwen is an award-winning staff writer at the Los Angeles Times, where he has worked as the editor of the Outdoors section, as a writer-at-large and editor for the features sections, and as the deputy editor of the Los Angeles Times Book Review. He has received an Academy of American Poets Prize, a Rosalynn Carter Fellowship for mental health journalism, and in 2008 he was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize.