Moral Injury Resources for Military Veterans
What is Moral Injury?
How does it affect our military service people and their families?
Moral injury comes from the recognition that one has violated one’s moral beliefs, leading to feelings of shame, grief, meaninglessness, and remorse. Living with these deep scars affects the veterans, their families, and communities. It isn’t just remorse over actions that might be considered unnecessary or avoidable, or failing to prevent abuse; even “justifiable” actions can deeply wound. Moral injury is not limited to those who question the morality of war or the morality of a particular war. Even those who do not question their participation in a military exercise can experience deep moral injury. The consequences include overwhelming depression, guilt, self-medication through drugs and alcohol, feelings of worthlessness, remorse, despair, and trouble connecting emotionally with others. They feel as though they have “lost their souls in combat,” as described by Rita Nakashima Brock and Gabriella Lettini in their book, Soul Repair: Recovering from Moral Injury after War, and suicide is seen as relief.
The above description comes from the article, “What Is Moral Injury and Why Should Friends Care?” by Kristen Richardson, Friends Journal, August 2015.
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On June 30th, 2015, members of Clearwater Friends Meeting hosted a gathering with more than fifty members of the community to ask the above questions and to begin to address the concerns about moral injury. Lynn and Steve Newsome from Quaker House, which serves military service people and their families in the Fort Bragg, North Carolina area, gave a presentation and led an engaging question and answer session afterwards. With the interest stirred by this gathering, we are continuing the conversation within our Meeting and community. We invite all to join. Please contact us by leaving a message at 727-210-5742.
In our ongoing conversations, we find ourselves using the term “soul injury” as well as “moral injury.” Many people who work with veterans also give this term great consideration. You will find both descriptions used in this wide range of sources for further learning and understanding.
(1) A recent article “Insulting America’s Sacred Idols: Helping Veterans Recover From Moral Injury”
by Marine Corps veteran Matthew Hoh will explain a great deal.
You can find this and also access a video interview he gave at Quaker House at this website:
With this article, Matthew Hoh lists studies, accessible by internet, that demonstrate a link between
combat, suicide, PTSD and moral injury.
(2) “The Effects of War,”
August 2015 issue of Friends Journal. 1215 Arch Street, 2A, Philadelphia, PA 19107-2835.
(3) “Healing a Wounded Sense of Morality,” Maggie Puniewska, July 3, 2015
Coming Home, Ministry That Matters with Veterans and Military Families, by
Zachary Moon. ChalicePress. St. Louis, MO, 2015. ISBN: 978-0-8272-0538-3
Peace at Last, Stories of Hope and Healing for Veterans and Their Families, by
Deborah L. Grassman. Vandamere Press, St. Petersburg, FL, 2009.
Soul Repair, Recovering from Moral Injury after War, by Rita Nakashima Brock and
Gabriella Lettini. Beacon Press. Boston, 2012. ISBN: 978-0-8070-2912-1
War and the Soul, Healing Our Nation’s Veterans from Post-traumatic Stress
Disorder, by Edward Tick, PhD. Quest Books. Wheaton, IL, 2005.
Warrior’s Return, Restoring the Soul after War, by Edward Tick, PhD. Sounds
True. Boulder, CO, 2014. ISBN: 978-1-62203-200-6
What It Is Like To Go To War, by Karl Malantes. Grove Press. NY, 2012.
(5) Reading via the Internet: go to Google and type in “VA on Moral Injury”
“Beyond PTSD to “Moral Injury”
by Jeff Severns Guntzel, Senior Reporter for Public Insight Network
Jonathan Shay Extended Interview, March 11, 2011
Religion and EthicsNewsweekly, (originally published May 28, 2010)
Interview is 18 min. 13 sec.
“Moral Injury in Veterans of War”
PTSD Research Quarterly, Volume 23/No.1. ISSN 1050-1835. 2012
“Moral Injury in the Context of War”
US Department of Veterans Affairs, PTSD: National Center for PTSD
(6) Film: Soldiers of Conscience, 2008. Perspectives on the Morality of Killing in Wartime.
All too often we point our fingers at nations and presidents and huge institutions as if
they are responsible for everything. We believe that is only partly true. Each one of us
is also hugely responsible.” — Gary Weimberg & Catherine Ryan, Filmmakers
(7) Organizations that address Moral Injury
223 Hillside Ave.
Fayetteville, NC 28301
Directors: Lynn & Steve Newsom
Contact: Deborah Grassman and Pat McGuire
email: [email protected]
National Alliance on Mental Illness
email: [email protected]
NAMI Help Line: 727-791-3434
Peer Support Help Line: 727-600-5838