‘Moral Injury’: When Soldiers Betray Their Sense Of Right And Wrong ~ June 21, 2013
By Martha Bebinger, Samara Freemark and Jeff Severns Guntzel | Illustration and layout by Andy Warner
US Army Col. Charles Hoge, MD a nationally known expert on PTSD, in his book Once a Warrior Always a Warrior confirms that "the fact that what medical professionals label symptoms are also combat survival skills". Col. Hoge goes on to describe that "PTSD is not an "emotional" or "psychological" problem, but a physiological condition that includes physical, emotional, psychological and behavioral reactions."
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For some the first casualty of war is many times a wound to the spirit.
For others it may be active combat survivor skills which worked well in field, but now being home aren't serving you well,
perhaps something during your military experience has you feeling disconnected, dishonored or depleted, or possibly it may be the case that you struggle going from service member to civilian.
We see there are many sides to what may be labeled PTSD - we aren't for labels especially when they do not accurately capture an individuals experience - there is no one size fits all PTSD and not everyone's personal experience fits neatly in to the traditional definitions and many times defies it.
This is why we like to call PTSD Post Traumatic SPIRITUAL DISSONANCE™
The definition of DISSONANCE in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is
a : lack of agreement; especially : inconsistency between the beliefs one holds or between one's
actions and one's beliefs
b : an instance of such inconsistency or disagreement
Therefore, Post Traumatic Spiritual Dissonance is a disconnect or conflict resulting from what one believes to be
right and wrong concurrently. Herein lies the internal struggle for the warrior.
Spiritual is defined as relating to or affecting the human spirit.
For some this will be more of a personal religious nature and others it may be more nonsecular in nature.
~ However you would like to define it, know that we understand, there is no judgement here and we support you.
It is our mission to work with you and our horses to forge a new path of Post Healing Strength™.
"Trauma is more of an injury that requires rehabilitation
than an illness that requires medicine."
~Charles Figley, PhD. and former Vietnam US Marine
Invisible wounds of war:
Jonathan Shay, a psychiatrist at the Department of Veteran’s Affairs’ clinic in Boston,
was looking for a way to describe damage to a veteran’s spirit or soul that PTSD didn't capture; he is credited
with coining the phrase 'Moral Injury' back in the 90's even though others, like world leading trauma expert
Bessel van der Kolk, had a keen understanding of Soul Wounds in his work with returning Vietnam veterans in the 70's.
In our work we coined the term Post Traumatic Spiritual Dissonance™ (the other side of PTSD), which more accurately
describes the disconnection that we see in the post 9/11 veterans and active military in our program. This dissonance
is not always a “moral” issue, rather it is a soul wound that pierces ones heart and spirit.
For example it could be, something you did, didn’t do, you saw, or something someone did to you.
Remember, we are veterans helping veterans who meet you where you are… we just don’t leave you there.
It is also important for you to know, that we are independent of the VA and any other governmental agency.
No information is shared, period. What happens at the ranch, stays at the ranch!
For more on Moral Injury please have a listen to or read the
5 part series below by WBUR Boston's NPR, as well as read the work of
Edward Tick, for he also captures this essence of soul wounds in his book War and the Soul.
Edward Tick says "...war's invisible wound is not only caused by the massive stress that alters neurological, emotional, and cognitive functioning.
These changes, to be sure, are real and severe. But the invisible war wound is also holistic and complex. It impacts and
transforms every aspect of our being. It is, in essence, spiritual, moral, and communal."
~ Quoted from Edward Tick's article War-Healing Ways
A Big Thank You to WBUR Boston's NPR® news station for their series on 'Moral Injury' which was published in June 2013.
Please click on each article link to hear or read the articles below.