Many soldiers come home from battle suffering from the emotional scars of war. But now there's a growing focus on what's known as "moral injury."
Psychologists at the VA Medical Center in Minneapolis are among those leading research into "moral injury" - the wounds soldiers return with when they've done something, or failed to stop something, that violates their moral code.
Dr. Irene Harris, a psychologist at the Minneapolis VA, joins The Daily Circuit to discuss the research.
From the Star Tribune:
A study of survey results for 814 Minnesota National Guard members who served in Iraq over the past decade showed that those who experienced moral injury had higher levels of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Moral injury generally refers to any type of guilt, shame, or depression that arises from actions that may have violated deeply held beliefs. But for this study, which was presented at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center last month, soldiers met the criteria if they killed in combat, felt their actions were unforgivable, and believed that God had abandoned them.
The lack of resiliency among soldiers who met this definition was alarming, said Dr. Irene Harris, the VA psychologist leading the research. "Basically, [they feel] at my spiritual functioning level, I don't think I belong here in the world. I'm not worth it. I have a sense that I should not be here."
Retired Navy psychiatrist Dr. William Nash, whose ground-breaking work on moral injury came out of his time as a combat therapist deployed with Marines in Iraq, also joins the discussion.