Soul Repair

Soul Repair

Recovering From Moral Injury After War

Book - 2012
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The first book to explore the idea and effect of moral injury on veterans, their families, and their communities

Although veterans make up only 7 percent of the U.S. population, they account for an alarming 20 percent of all suicides. And though treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder has undoubtedly alleviated suffering and allowed many service members returning from combat to transition to civilian life, the suicide rate for veterans under thirty has been increasing. Research by Veterans Administration health professionals and veterans' own experiences now suggest an ancient but unaddressed wound of war may be a factor: moral injury. This deep-seated sense of transgression includes feelings of shame, grief, meaninglessness, and remorse from having violated core moral beliefs.

Rita Nakashima Brock and Gabriella Lettini, who both grew up in families deeply affected by war, have been working closely with vets on what moral injury looks like, how vets cope with it, and what can be done to heal the damage inflicted on soldiers' consciences. In Soul Repair , the authors tell the stories of four veterans of wars from Vietnam to our current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan--Camillo "Mac" Bica, Herman Keizer Jr., Pamela Lightsey, and Camilo Mejía--who reveal their experiences of moral injury from war and how they have learned to live with it. Brock and Lettini also explore its effect on families and communities, and the community processes that have gradually helped soldiers with their moral injuries.

Soul Repair will help veterans, their families, members of their communities, and clergy understand the impact of war on the consciences of healthy people, support the recovery of moral conscience in society, and restore veterans to civilian life. When a society sends people off to war, it must accept responsibility for returning them home to peace.

Publisher: Boston : Beacon Press, c2012.
ISBN: 9780807029077
Branch Call Number: 174 Brock 11/2012
Characteristics: xxvii, 144 p. ;,23 cm.
Additional Contributors: Lettini, Gabriella


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Mar 25, 2015

Some years ago I was part of a clergy team trying to help churches help vets re-enter society on return from war zones. I wish we had had a book like this as a resource. I'd heard the term "moral injury," but didn't understand it, and since those of us leading the program weren't vets, we really hadn't a clue. The stories these vets tell of their lives both "in country" and when they tried to find some kind of normalcy back home are heartbreaking. Nakshima and her co-author Lettini both experienced moral injury as family members of vets, demonstrating in their lives the ripple effects. One major point of this brief book is that moral injury is not the same as PTSD. The latter is physical, something that happens to the body in war. Moral injury is something that happens to the soul (defined as the core values, no matter where they come from) when a person feels he or she has acted against their own best beliefs. Treatment for the two conditions needs to be different, and the VA isn't making the distinction. While the authors aren't always as clear as I'd like on what should be done, the book is a cry from the heart on how the current system mis-serves vets, especially given the high rate of alcoholism, divorce, and most importantly, suicide among them. A very important book.


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