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Moral Injury

Not all wounds suffered by deployed military personnel are physical. Likened to a wound of the conscience, moral injury has only recently been recognized as an additional cause for emotional distress and higher suicide rates among military personnel and Veterans.

Moral injury occurs when an individual does something that breaks their moral compass. It could be participating in activities that result in the death of children or witnessing the immoral behavior of others. Moral injury is one of the leading causes of suicidal death among Veterans.

Like psychological trauma, moral injury is a construct that describes extreme and unprecedented life experience including the harmful aftermath of exposure to such events. Events are considered morally injurious if they transgress deeply held moral beliefs and expectations. Thus, the key precondition for moral injury is an act of transgression, which shatters moral and ethical expectations that are rooted in religious or spiritual beliefs, or culture-based, organizational, and group-based rules about fairness, the value of life, and so forth.

 

For more information, visit https://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/treat/cooccurring/moral_injury.asp