Help for Moral Injury Requires Moral Authority

US Army Alaska chaplain recently participated in a “Holistic Healthcare Conference” that included discussions on PTSD and moral injury.

In a panel discussion, Chaplain (Maj) James Hall made a fascinating statement:

When asked about where service members could seek out help, Hall replied, “it usually takes a moral authority to help someone with a moral injury.”

At first it almost sounds arrogant — but, in fact, it’s true. Consider that moral injury has been defined as “a violation of your sense of what’s right.” For a person to help another cope and heal with that kind of moral injury, they have to be able to speak with authority on “your sense of what’s right.”

Consider, too, that many cases of PTSD are said to have at least some elements of moral injury, and that one’s “sense of what’s right” is very often predicated in some part on religiously-based morals, even if not religion itself.

Thus, extrapolate that treatment to the general population, and you can start to see a logical argument for why the US military should be encouraging — not just “making available,” but actively advocating for — at least some aspect of spiritual therapy in dealing with post traumatic experiences.

There is obviously some trepidation for political sensitivities. What’s more important, though? Political expediency, or helping troops cope and reintegrate with society after returning from the conflict to which their Nation bade them go?