About Moral Injury

What is moral injury? We at the Moral Injury Institute define moral injury as witnessing or experiencing (whether in person, through reporting, or some other means) something that causes a crisis of conscience due to a violation of one’s deeply held moral, religious, or ethical beliefs such that one psychically suffers in a materially adverse way.

The above is a little esoteric, but I think it becomes clearer with an example or two.  An officer in Vietnam: ” Can you imagine?  Can you imagine sipping tea in a man’s living room while you pay him for killing his child?  Try to imagine the situation reversed.  What’s the life of your child worth?  What’s adequate remuneration for a loving spouse blown to bits by a 40mm cannon round?”    An Iraq veteran: “How could I ever teach my daughter right from wrong when I had done so wrong myself?  What moral authority did I have left be a good father?  As our time in Iraq continued and I become more and more preoccupied with the single task of surviving, these issues concerned me less and less.  But now, at the door of Samantha’s home, they all came flooding back to me.”

About the Institute

The Moral Injury Institute was started out of my doctoral work on moral injury in combat veterans. To keep this work alive and advance it in the world, this Institute was formed to publish and educate any with an interest in moral injury and the communities that suffer from it. Although my work specifically addresses moral injury in the context of war veterans, the concept itself does not confine itself to this singular community. All are welcome to contribute to the ongoing discussion.

About the Executive Director

I took a B.A. in Quantitative Methods & Computer Science and a Masters in International Management from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. I then completed my Ph.D. in Depth Psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute in Carpinteria, California.

I am a two-time combat veteran: in Desert Storm with the Marines (1987-1993) and with the Navy (2003-2009) during Iraqi Freedom. I served in a number of billets/MOSs/NECs including Small Missile Technician, Primary Marksmanship Instructor, NCOIC Armory, NBC team leader, and Special Warfare Intelligence Specialist.