More discussion on the invisible wounds of war…moral injury…and living with the spiriitual dilemma…

Eric Newhouse is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and the author of Alcohol: Cradle to Grave and Faces of Combat: PTSD and TBI.  Quote from this website…

Invisible Wounds

What stress does to the soul…
“I held two seemingly contradictory beliefs: Killing is always wrong, but in war, it is necessary. How could something be both immoral and necessary? I didn’t have time to resolve this question before deploying,” wrote Kudo, who had deployed to Iraq in 2009 and to Afghanistan in 2010-11. “And in the first few months, I fell right into killing without thinking twice. We were simply too busy to worry about the morality of what we were doing. But one day on patrol in Afghanistan in 2010, my patrol got into a firefight and ended up killing two people on a motorcycle we thought were about to attack us. They ignored or didn’t understand our warnings to stop, and according to the military’s ‘escalation of force’ guidelines, we were authorized to shoot them in self-defense. Although we thought they were armed, they turned out to be civilians. One looked no older than 16.”  Quoted from a previous posting by Steve Sparks…

“Many veterans are unable to reconcile such actions in war with the biblical commandment “Thou shalt not kill.” When they come home from an environment where killing is not only accepted but is a metric of success, the transition to one where killing is wrong can be incomprehensible.”

The above quote from a soldier who was responsible and trained to kill without question in the context of war driven by politics, is what troubles the soul so deeply. The men and women who come home to life after war begin the painful journey of attempting to reconcile what is truly wrong in their hearts, “Thou shalt not kill.”

We are beginning to discuss moral injury as a better way to understand damage to our spiritual being or our soul. For many, soul repair is either impossible or becomes a lifetime journey of healing. The worst case scenario is suicide among combat veterans returning home where reconciliation becomes a 24/7 emotional and physical extreme challenge. The best case outcome for those severely affected by the horror of war is a daily regimen of focusing one’s life 100% on making a difference for others to keep the pain of war at a safe distance. It appears from all my own research, experience, including extensive studies by mental health experts since the end of the Vietnam War, that those who are able to direct their lives toward the greater good and helping others each and every day do so much better. A spiritual problem apparently needs a spiritual solution… The soul is not repaired from the experience of consistent and severe trauma with a diet of alcohol and prescription drugs. The daily practice of helping others and making a difference in your community in life after war seems to pass the test of healing for the long term. This kind of outreach requires the discipline and desire to stand with loved ones, friends, family, and community, but never ever alone… While you make choices for your own journey of healing, please remember to be guided by your primary care physician and appropriate mental health professionals.

My own personal experience has proven this path of healing. I have observed many others who have suffered from moral injury and PTSD succeed in achieving peace of mind, happiness, and a much more fulfilling quality of life by making life larger than self. Don’t go it alone… Making a difference for others is truly “food for the soul.”

Steve Sparks
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

Translate »
%d bloggers like this: