The Veterans’ Chaplain and Moral Injury

At The Ada News, a local paper from just outside Oklahoma City, Richard Putnam wrote a short piece on “Christians and Violence” entitled “The Veterans’ Chaplain.”

Putnam, who apparently supports the concept of a military and non-pacifistic defense, also says:

How…do we square the business of defending ourselves and our loved ones with Jesus’ explicit command to not engage in violence? The answer is, of course, that we cannot. We cannot obey Jesus’ command to remain nonviolent and engage in battle to protect our families.

The short column is best summed up here [emphasis added]:

the explicit nonviolent commandment continues to stand. We who stand to protect our people sin against God. I don’t see that we get a pass. That leaves a warrior right where we started: alone, with his or her God, praying for guidance, praying for wisdom, praying for forgiveness. I have been wrestling with this issue for over half a century. You are all welcome to join me.

Richard Putnam seems to be a Vietnam Veteran, and he’s a chaplain for the local American Legion.  He seems to embody, and has for decades embodied, the very concept of moral injury. Regrettably, there’s no immediately available contact information for Putnam.

Presumably, over those ensuing decades he’s spoken with faith leaders and chaplains who have (rightfully) disagreed with his conclusions. Lord willing, he will one day find the peace he seeks.


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