Moral Injury is different than Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD is the adverse mental health impact of witnessing or experiencing a terrible event. PTSD can cause severe anxiety, flashbacks, nightmares, extreme fear, uncontrollable thoughts, as well as physical distress.
According to the Moral Injury Project at Syracuse University, moral injury is a term that refers to “the damage done to one’s conscious or moral compass when a person perpetrates, witnesses or fails to prevent acts that transgress their own moral and ethical values and codes of conduct.” The project determined that moral injury may present itself later than PTSD, and in different ways depending upon the individual. It can be described as an overwhelming, ongoing internal battle.
Moral Injury is an open wound that affects an individual’s sense of morality and where or how they fit into society. The premise behind moral injury is that the soul must be healed in order for the moral injury, in turn, can be healed. Only recently have researchers, medical providers, social workers and veterans, in particular, begun to understand that treating PTSD alone is not the entire answer to relief from suffering.
The concept of moral injury is not new. Veterans and civilians both struggle with events they can’t reconcile. A drunk driver may cause an accident that kills a child or a entire family. A drug addict may have stolen money from an elderly person. A soldier is told by his or her commanding officer to walk past a wounded child.
The film Almost Sunrise documents two veterans suffering from moral injury, and the trek they take from Wisconsin to California in search of answers and insight into healing themselves and thousands of veterans and in service military personnel. Rather than the standard course of treatment, alternative therapies are being more widely used. 89% of VA facilities currently offer at least one form of an alternative therapy.
If you are a veteran suffering from Moral Injury and PTSD, the Project Welcome Home Troop’s Power Breath Meditation Workshop might offer you the same significant healing opportunity as it did for Tom Anthony, one of the two veterans in Almost Sunrise.
Fostering public dialog about moral injury is something you can do to help.
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