Really good article about "Moral Injury"

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    Distinguished Member Array Chaplain Scott's Avatar
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    Really good article about "Moral Injury"

    Moral Injury: The Grunts - The Huffington Post

    This is the first in a series of three articles. Its actually very good. I also think that there is a potential direct application to Law Enforcement.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chaplain Scott View Post
    Moral Injury: The Grunts - The Huffington Post

    This is the first in a series of three articles. Its actually very good. I also think that there is a potential direct application to Law Enforcement.
    Excellent article, but as one reads through it the text actually presents an array of "cognitive errors" and "goal conflicts" which underlie the "Moral Injury."

    This seems to me to be exactly the sort of problem that could be tackled and should be tackled by clergy who are also trained in Cognitive Therapy.
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    Sort of Grossman's On Killing for the layman. A good article for folks to consider, particularly those who've never been on a battlefield.
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    Thanks for posting, explains many things.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hopyard View Post
    Excellent article, but as one reads through it the text actually presents an array of "cognitive errors" and "goal conflicts" which underlie the "Moral Injury."

    This seems to me to be exactly the sort of problem that could be tackled and should be tackled by clergy who are also trained in Cognitive Therapy.
    Hoppy: I gree with your basic assessment. Sadly there are not enough of us (active duty Chaplains), and the professional training level required AND the personal strength required to "go there" with others are pretty intense.
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    From the article:
    "Here’s Nick, pausing in a lull. He spots somebody darting around the corner of an adobe wall, firing assault rifle shots at him and his Marines. Nick raises his M-4 carbine. He sees the shooter is a child, maybe 13. With only a split second to decide, he squeezes the trigger and ends the boy’s life."

    The "boy" Huff Post whines about is shooting at an American Marine. The American shoots back, resolving the situation.

    Seems like a good outcome to me!

    John W in SC
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    A worthwhile read. Thanks for posting it Scott.

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    Well I think this pretty much sums it up: ‘Bad Things Happen In War’

    And that's the reason why I feel our troops should be reserved for the most serious of situations only. And in those situations, the actual reasons and goals should be clearly spelled out for every single person who is about to enter into that situation.

    Sadly I don't think anyone can enter into the sort of conflicts that we've seen in recent years and not be affected in some way. When you're fighting against a mentality that places no value on life and harmony with others, you will either adapt or you will cease to function.

    It's a sobering and sad read, but very worthwhile.
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    I don't disagree with the comments, but David Wood is a draft dodging, agenda driven hater of all things military, and he thinks he's unique in hating war. The only reason he even mentions the Taliban castrating a young boy as the reason for the Marines presence is that he knows he'll be scrutinized by all the soldiers and veterans who despise his existence. Otherwise he would never even to think of reporting negatively about the human flotsam we fight. His goal is to either portray us as merciless killers, or broken people who can't cope with our experiences. I can't get over the fact of who wrote the piece. He doesn't give a "darn" about the soldiers on which he's reporting. "Senior Military Correspondent" is a complete joke. That's like putting Rush Limbaugh in charge of a Women's Studies program at a junior college.
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    Distinguished Member Array Chaplain Scott's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John_W_in_SC View Post
    From the article:
    "Here’s Nick, pausing in a lull. He spots somebody darting around the corner of an adobe wall, firing assault rifle shots at him and his Marines. Nick raises his M-4 carbine. He sees the shooter is a child, maybe 13. With only a split second to decide, he squeezes the trigger and ends the boy’s life."

    The "boy" Huff Post whines about is shooting at an American Marine. The American shoots back, resolving the situation.

    Seems like a good outcome to me!

    John W in SC
    John--I don't see the author "Whining" about the young Marine shooting a 13 year old combatant, just talking about the basis of "Moral Injury."

    There is, buried down in our American civilized hearts and souls this desire to PROTECT kids and other innocents. Shooting a kid, even when emminently justified, still causes an internal conflict with the innate desire to be a "Protector".

    Its the conflict between the "crap that happens" and that desire to be a protector that gives rise to the whole concept of "Moral Injury." I had the priviledge of working with a young soldier who had to shoot a 10 year old child in Iraq who had a suicide vest strapped to him by evil men and then told to go talk to the Americans who were repairing a dad-blamed road....... Was the shooting of the 10 year old justified--yes,, was it HORRIBLE to that fine young soldier--YES.
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    It's unfortunately not unusual, and it's not always so clearly justified. Children get killed all the time as collateral damage too, and Wood didn't go into that much because of who he is. In a backwater like Afghanistan where the infant and child mortality is so high they simply, culturally, don't view children on anywhere near that sacred level that we do. When a child dies here everyone who even hears about it is emotionally crushed. We expect the miracles of modern medicine to save every child, and the protection of nurturing of children can be the justification for just about anything. Pretending those are universal values across cultures is a terrible mistake. Afghanistan isn't just a hellhole because of terrain and climate on the plains, its a hellhole because its full of Afghanis. Sorry, but their culture completely sucks, and is centuries behind the rest of the world. Before you accuse me of racism, if they were Nordics with that culture it would suck just as much. Racism is wrong, but cultural equivalency is just as mind numbingly ignorant.

    I have close friends who either know or believe they've killed kids in war. The only things I've found that actually work with coping are faith and time. When they say that all gave some, and some gave all it is the God's honest truth.
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    It's an interesting article, and raises interesting questions. I've never fired a gun in anger, so I won't pretend to be an expert on this subject in any way; but I have to wonder what it says about our culture. It seems clear enough that shooting a teenager, when he's shooting at you with an AK-47, is not in ANY way morally comparable to shooting a teenager in general. So, shouldn't the morality that we teach to the kids - who will become the soldiers, regardless of what anybody wants them to be, if they're called upon - account for that? Isn't guilt over such an act indicative of a flaw in one's moral structure? Not that I'm blaming the guilt-ridden for it; at that age, his morality is likely more what he's been taught than what he chose himself. Certainly some level of self-doubt and introspection is natural after such an event, but years of grief and guilt, I think, is not natural, but learned.

    Maybe we teach too much about taking care of others, and not enough of taking care of oneself. Maybe we value sensitivity and empathy too much. Maybe the ideal of the soldier who dies protecting the innocent - so popular in movies and books - should take a backseat to the ideal of a soldier who does whatever is necessary to keep himself and his comrades alive. Maybe our peace/love/understanding mantra is responsible for sending our troops into war without the correct moral armament. Maybe our morality should be just a little bit colder when it comes to mortal enemies.
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    Distinguished Member Array Jaeger's Avatar
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    You don't have to teach that Maxwell. That just happens, and was also in the article when the soldier looked down at the dying soldier and felt nothing. That coldness in itself also causes sensitive people emotional distress. All these issues are individual ones, and no one handles them the same. For some people it's like water off a ducks back, and they can go right back to American La La Land seamlessly. The other end of the spectrum are the ones who get emotionally killed, and only their bodies return. In my experience if you are in that later group and try to recover on your own you don't make it. There is not much you can do to help them either, especially if you weren't there and cant directly relate. They need real help and real strength from above, and that's what gives them the time to let their wounds heal.

    That's what I've found anyway.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jaeger View Post
    It's unfortunately not unusual, and it's not always so clearly justified. Children get killed all the time as collateral damage too, and Wood didn't go into that much because of who he is. In a backwater like Afghanistan where the infant and child mortality is so high they simply, culturally, don't view children on anywhere near that sacred level that we do. When a child dies here everyone who even hears about it is emotionally crushed. We expect the miracles of modern medicine to save every child, and the protection of nurturing of children can be the justification for just about anything. Pretending those are universal values across cultures is a terrible mistake. Afghanistan isn't just a hellhole because of terrain and climate on the plains, its a hellhole because its full of Afghanis. Sorry, but their culture completely sucks, and is centuries behind the rest of the world. Before you accuse me of racism, if they were Nordics with that culture it would suck just as much. Racism is wrong, but cultural equivalency is just as mind numbingly ignorant.

    I have close friends who either know or believe they've killed kids in war. The only things I've found that actually work with coping are faith and time. When they say that all gave some, and some gave all it is the God's honest truth.
    All very true. It's worth noting that not all people of that origin place no value on any life beyond their own; however it is a cultural 'fact', so to speak, that generally their 'moral' values are very shallow at best. I totally agree that far too many people are quick to romanticise other cultures so they may find fault with our own. It's quite fashionable in many circles to ignore the facts so they can entertain their fantasies.

    Quote Originally Posted by maxwell97 View Post
    It's an interesting article, and raises interesting questions. I've never fired a gun in anger, so I won't pretend to be an expert on this subject in any way; but I have to wonder what it says about our culture. It seems clear enough that shooting a teenager, when he's shooting at you with an AK-47, is not in ANY way morally comparable to shooting a teenager in general. So, shouldn't the morality that we teach to the kids - who will become the soldiers, regardless of what anybody wants them to be, if they're called upon - account for that? Isn't guilt over such an act indicative of a flaw in one's moral structure? Not that I'm blaming the guilt-ridden for it; at that age, his morality is likely more what he's been taught than what he chose himself. Certainly some level of self-doubt and introspection is natural after such an event, but years of grief and guilt, I think, is not natural, but learned.

    Maybe we teach too much about taking care of others, and not enough of taking care of oneself. Maybe we value sensitivity and empathy too much. Maybe the ideal of the soldier who dies protecting the innocent - so popular in movies and books - should take a backseat to the ideal of a soldier who does whatever is necessary to keep himself and his comrades alive. Maybe our peace/love/understanding mantra is responsible for sending our troops into war without the correct moral armament. Maybe our morality should be just a little bit colder when it comes to mortal enemies.
    Like you, I've never fired a weapon at anyone, for any reason. I have taken just enough psychology classes to understand that there's a big difference between saying and doing. It's easy to say we should be colder, or teach less sensitivity. It's a totally different thing when you're the guy actually pulling the trigger. I don't think that's something you can actually teach that unless you are willing to accept the consequences of guiltless, moraless troops who think nothing of killing... That might be good for getting the job done efficiently, but if you're talking about long term mental health, it's certainly no better than where we are now (and personally I think it'd be worse). Where I believe we could do a much better job is in preparing our combat soldiers for the realities of war in the theater where they will see action in as well as finding better solutions to help them post combat. The biggest challenge there, of course, is that no two people are emotionally alike, so while you can go down a specific checklist to fix a physical wound, the same cannot be done for a mental one.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jaeger View Post
    You don't have to teach that Maxwell. That just happens, and was also in the article when the soldier looked down at the dying soldier and felt nothing. That coldness in itself also causes sensitive people emotional distress. All these issues are individual ones, and no one handles them the same. For some people it's like water off a ducks back, and they can go right back to American La La Land seamlessly. The other end of the spectrum are the ones who get emotionally killed, and only their bodies return. In my experience if you are in that later group and try to recover on your own you don't make it. There is not much you can do to help them either, especially if you weren't there and cant directly relate. They need real help and real strength from above, and that's what gives them the time to let their wounds heal.

    That's what I've found anyway.
    I have no doubt that you're right. I guess my question is, is there something that could have been done better in the 20 years of life BEFORE the soldier gets to the battlefield that could prevent this? Are the sensitive people sensitive (in this regard) by nature, or by their education and experience growing up? It's partially a social question, because society is partially responsible for what kids learn.
    "Yet this government never of itself furthered any enterprise, but by the alacrity with which it got out of the way... The character inherent in the American people has done all that has been accomplished; and it would have done somewhat more, if the government had not sometimes got in its way."

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