Friday, October 25, 2013

Mental Health Support - Individual/Group & Moral Injury/PTSD

Greetings, friends,

We've been talking about Moral Injury on the American Heroes Network radio broadcast lately (15Oct), and a new discussion yesterday has provoked new thinking.  

[An example of moral injury would be a fierce firefight that resulted in the inadvertent killing of innocent civilians that haunts a veteran afterward. This has gone on as long as war has been waged.]

Two issues are provided for your thought here today.  

When a unit experiences a trauma together that goes against personal values and creates a moral dilemma, service members are forever changed.  In past eras, it was very hard to reconnect with members of a unit, especially if the war fought was considered an Unjust War (Vietnam).  With today's Social Media capabilities, we learned a great deal from a wonderfully articulate Marine who has found 80% of his unit.  This online effort has now grown to include annual reunions that are highly significant and meaningful to them.

This unit/peer connection appears to be a growing phenomenon and began years ago with Facebook pages for a specific unit, and has morphed into using GPS geo-locators for identifying other veterans (POS REP). The action of organically connecting to prior unit members is showing positive outcomes for many, including finding some semblance of peace and improved mental well-being.  

Interestingly, most mental health care is administered to each individual. Which works best?This is a tough question to answer since everyone is different, but research appears to be saying that for combat vets, a shared experience and peer connection may be an excellent way to heal.  

Secondly, is Moral Injury separate or a component of PTSD?  Moral Injury is under study to discern whether it is separate from PTSD, even though many symptoms may be the same. Is moral injury defined by guilt and a moral disagreement with personal values and PTSD more a danger response (with biological, psychological symptoms) coupled with a spiritual outlook?  Does this help explain drone operators who are not in physical danger, but suffer greatly as we now know.

This topic will be discussed more fully on the American Heroes Network ( on 05 November at 11am EST and archived afterward on iTunes and the AHN website.  Let us know what you think of the group versus individual approach to Moral Injury and/or PTSD may be?

Linda Kreter & the VeteranCaregiver team

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