"Moral injury is the damage done to one’s conscience or moral compass when that person perpetrates, witnesses, or fails to prevent acts that transgress their own moral and ethical values or codes of conduct. Within the context of military service, particularly regarding the experience of war, “moral injury” refers to the emotional and spiritual impact of participating in, witnessing, and/or being victimized by actions and behaviors which violate a service member’s core moral values and behavioral expectations of self or others. Moral injury almost always pivots with the dimension of time: moral codes evolve alongside identities, and transitions inform perspectives that form new conclusions about old events." [http://moralinjuryproject.syr.edu/about-moral-injury/]
The notion of moral injury, including betrayal have been around for many decades but it is only recently that serious efforts have been made to understand their impacts on military veterans. It goes well beyond the traditional idea that military PTSD is only the result of seeing something awful in war to refer to something deeper and more insidious. As many veterans tell me, it feels like something that just crept into their souls over time. When it comes to betrayal, it often leaves a crushing blow making a mockery of military values and one's military identity. Betrayal comes in many forms - starting with the persistent reports of sexual violence, harassment, and indifference, to instances where official reports are inconsistent with event facts to personal instances of being promised postings or promotions for doing special things only to be ignored and forgotten. Among these men and women, these types of things seem to create the most serious and lingering damage of all. As difficult as it may be to accept, there is a way to move beyond this blackness .... It begins with the full, unedited story.
John J. Whelan
John J. Whelan, Ph.D., is the author of Going Crazy in the Green Machine, available now on FriesenPress.