Streams

The Moral Injuries Vets Bring Home

Friday, April 04, 2014

General Mark Milley, III Corps and Fort Hood Commanding General, speaks to media during a press conference about a shooting that occurred earlier at Fort Hood Military Base on April 2, 2014. (Drew Anthony Smith/Getty)

David Wood, Pulitzer Prize-winning senior military correspondent for Huffington Post, talks about his reporting on veterans and the idea of "moral injury" and what part that might have played in the recent shooting at Ft. Hood.

Guests:

David Wood

Comments [40]

"Moral Injury" is pretty much as old as war itself. In the literature, usually conscripts and 'for the duration' enlistees are more susceptible to the effects of it than are 'professional' soldiers. The euphemistic term for it is 'battle hardened'. However, we are finding that the multiple-deployment soldiers are succumbing to it in larger numbers. For us, the price is usually paid by the soldier taking his own life before he murders someone else, but can there be any doubt that we are asking too much from our military men and women?

As strange as it seems, the answer is universal national service. Every body does two years sometime between the ages of 18 and 30. [Possibly four years during a declared war or national emergency.]

Apr. 06 2014 01:39 PM

And Edward; people who drop bombs on villages, cities or houses [where to get one "bad" guy they'll blow the arms and legs off of children and incinerate civilians] are no better. We have our reasons, they have theirs.The boston bombers gave us blow back for that, btw. Give them 21st century weapons and they'll do it our way. Typical thin skinned we -can - dish- it- out- but- never- expected- to- have- to- take- it, didn't- God -tell- these- people- that- we- have- the- right- to- kill- them- but- they- have- no -right- to- kill- us, hypocritical American whiner. Guess what? They fight back. Welcome to the 21st century-the peoples century, all people. Our complacent belief we could act with impunity in the world is no longer to be taken for granted. And it is THAT anger that is at the heart of PTSD, I surmise. Moral injury is the least just reward for these American terrorists[US military } we call, heroes. Real justice would mean they be tried for war crimes.

Apr. 04 2014 03:17 PM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

roseellen asked:

> Moral injury? That's a good one. Does it apply to the enemy too? Or are they, as the self serving narrative goes, reduced to being "pure evil?"

roseellen, People who hijack passenger planes and lie to the passengers that if they don't resist, will be safe....

Are "pure evil".

Apr. 04 2014 01:43 PM

Moral injury? That's a good one. Does it apply to the enemy too? Or are they, as the self serving narrative goes, reduced to being "pure evil?"

Apr. 04 2014 11:57 AM
Mark

The military in America is completely voluntary. If you don't like murdering women and children, don't sign up. It's that simple.

Apr. 04 2014 11:52 AM
John A

And the last segment dares argue that being a spoiled culture does us no damage.
-
Thank-you for this segment. I missed first run but will be listening via your download, thanks.

Apr. 04 2014 11:20 AM

Our serious wartime president furrowed his brow, adopted the mask of sincerity and somberly expressed his sympathy from -----
a STEAKHOUSE on yet another day of ENDLESS POLITICAL CAMPAIGN FUNDRAISING!!!!!
Then he partied on to SEVERAL MORE AFTER THAT - ending the night with wads of cash.
Is this all this guy does with his days? (See Below)

“Obama spoke from the Chicago Cut steakhouse, in the same room where he had just met with 25 DNC donors who paid up to $32,400.”

“After Making Statement on Ft. Hood, Obama Heads to DNC Fundraiser”

“On Wednesday evening, President Obama was being kept up to date on the developments from the mass shooting at Fort Hood while reportedly attending fundraisers for the 2014 election cycle. According to White House spokesman Josh Earnest, Obama is in the loop while at the fundraisers.”

“TWEET - Now in Obama motorcade heading to 2nd DNC fundraiser in Lincoln Park home w/ about 55 donors who paid up to $10K”

(http://townhall.com/tipsheet/katiepavlich/2014/04/02/after-making-statement-on-ft-hood-obama-heads-to-dnc-fundraiser-n1818176)

Apr. 04 2014 11:20 AM
Bill

Combat is not the only reason for a soldier to feel stress. I was stationed at a very isolated post in Germany right next to the Iron Curtain. One soldier having been denied leave due to a restrictive leave policy went to the top of the barracks and jumped off breaking both ankles. I saw another soldier at Christmas smash every window he could reach and break them with his bare hands. After receiving medical attention for his bleeding hands, and having been given a warning by the MPs, he smashed more windows with his bandaged hands and finally had to be put in a jail cell. These were only two of the incidents at this large post. I realize that the soldiers I saw usually were only hurting themselves but that may only have been because they did not have access to weapons at the time of their greatest stress. That Specialist Lopez was upset because he did not feel he had received sufficient leave after the loss of his mother may have been enough to unhinge him. Unfortunately he also had easy access to a civilian gun shop leading to the fatal consequences at Fort Hood. Security inside a military installation is too easily overturned by the lenient policies towards firearms of the surrounding state or locality.

Apr. 04 2014 11:02 AM
Linda from Brooklyn

There is a great book on this topic called War and the Soul, by Edward Tick. He speaks of an identity or soul wound that combat veterans suffer: "If I am capable of this, then who can I be?" As a Reiki master, I have worked with military veterans here and in the Midwest. One Marine told be that what he wanted more than anything in civilian life was a dimmer switch. "Somebody bumps into my kid at the mall, and I'm ready to go off on him." Certain Native American tribes had great programs for returning combat veterans in the old days. There would be group isolation from the community while various rituals were performed over a multi-day period to return the warrior to a civilian life. Then, the behavior of the warriors was observed for an additional period, a time during which they were restricted from eating meat and other practices. Finally, when the individuals were deemed ready to fully be part of the community, the personal sanctions were removed.

Apr. 04 2014 10:47 AM
Linda from Brooklyn

There is a great book on this topic called War and the Soul, by Edward Tick. He speaks of an identity or soul wound that combat veterans suffer: "If I am capable of this, then who can I be?" As a Reiki master, I have worked with military veterans here and in the Midwest. One Marine told be that what he wanted more than anything in civilian life was a dimmer switch. "Somebody bumps into my kid at the mall, and I'm ready to go off on him." Certain Native American tribes had great programs for returning combat veterans in the old days. There would be group isolation from the community while various rituals were performed over a multi-day period to return the warrior to a civilian life. Then, the behavior of the warriors was observed for an additional period, a time during which they were restricted from eating meat and other practices. Finally, when the individuals were deemed ready to fully be part of the community, the personal sanctions were removed.

Apr. 04 2014 10:46 AM
Soldier's Father

@ jgarbuz: You previously stated that you avoided military service with a 4F deferment when it was your turn to step up, but you continue to cheerlead from the safety of Queens for other people to fight. Seems like the very definition of "Un-American" to me.

Apr. 04 2014 10:40 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Civilian studies have shown that people who have less control over their situation have more stress. Could a soldier who drives a truck & is exposed to combat have more stress, & therefore more PTSD, than a soldier who's actually fighting? Would being actively involved in combat be a way of having more "control" in the situation?

Apr. 04 2014 10:34 AM
Clelia

In the indian "Bhagavad Gita" this issue of moral aspect of war is explored at length. I find that reading it can answer a lot of questions

Apr. 04 2014 10:31 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

We need a new Congressional House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), as we had when I was a kid in the 1950s, to investigate internal elements trying to weaken and destroy America from within. These forces are trying to make America weak and impotent and incapable of defending itself much less its allies abroad.

Apr. 04 2014 10:29 AM
stefano from 11206

Kubrick had it right in the movie Full Metal Jacket.

http://youtu.be/DqvCA4c80GQ

Apr. 04 2014 10:29 AM
Tom

Just wondering what this guy thinks of the kinds of issues that the book NONE OF US WERE LIKE THIS BEFORE raises about moral injury.

Apr. 04 2014 10:28 AM
Nick from UWS

The US government is sick sick sick. Morally bankrupt completely.

Apr. 04 2014 10:27 AM
Nick from UWS

"Killed innocent people in the line of "duty". What you guys are talking about is so evil, so perverse, so pychotic, that you don't even recognize it. As if it's anyone's "duty" to kill anybody.

Apr. 04 2014 10:25 AM
Amy from Manhattan

I haven't heard anything said yet about cases of actual, deliberate war crimes, like the case of the US commander who led his unit in raping a 14-year-old & killing her family, then told his men, "We just got away w/murder." This is very different from killing a 13-yr.-old who's actually shooting at you & others. Would making this distinction to someone whose experience was more like the 2nd example be any help to that person?

Apr. 04 2014 10:25 AM
sophia

The treatment of moral injury seems to consist of relieving the patient without genuine regard to the cause or justification by finding ways to blame the other party.

The author has only given examples of blameless people with overactive consciences. What about the torturers? the people who shot people in the "collateral murder" video and blamed the victims for being in the wrong place?

Do they not suffer from guilt, or do psychiatrists try to find ways to shift blame in those cases as well?

Apr. 04 2014 10:24 AM

I haven't had a chance to read David Wood's article yet. I am unfamiliar with any research on moral injury, but I plan to read his piece.

He mentioned that using exposure techniques, which are effective for PTSD, make moral injury worse by pushing it deeper into the subconscious.

Could he explain a little more about that or if there are any researchers or authors to recommend, so clinicians can learn more about this?

Here is also a good link for information from the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies on PTSD

<a href="http://www.abct.org/docs/factsheets/PTSD.pdf"
target="_blank">PTSD Facts</a>

Thanks,
Ryan

J. Ryan Fuller
Clinical Psychologist

Apr. 04 2014 10:21 AM
jf

Kill brown people that speak other languages in free fire zones, drop bombs on babys to justify a military budget many 1%s are living off. Our government MASS MURDERS MILLIONS OF INNOCENT HUMAN BEINGS TO SELL WEAPONS. WE LIVE IN A CULTURE RUN BY BRUTAL GHOULISH THUGS. DONT EVER LET THEM PUT BLOOD ON YOUR HANDS. AFTER THAT THEY OWN YOUR SOUL.

Apr. 04 2014 10:21 AM
mike from astoria

The real issue is not that a vet pointed the gun at others, the point is that 18 vets are killing themselves a DAY. Thats according to a recent NYT article. How about that for a body count, 18 a day are killed, thats what should be discussed. It all comes down to a disfunctional VET ADMN post war care beauracracy. Think of all the money halliburton made and wasted on this war and now the real price of this financial windfall for most contractors is being denied through lack of care to our vets.

Apr. 04 2014 10:20 AM
RUCB_Alum from Central New Jersey

Dealing with the consequence of deciding to deploy men with guns and bombs is a fact of modern warfare. We no longer kill combatants...Civilian populations, while not targeted, are 'fair game'.

Vets *should* be getting more and better post-deployment counseling but *nobody* wants to pay the taxes to fund it. Get DoD to fund one less JSF-135 and put that money into psych services.

In the recent Ft. Hood case, BL is somewhat cutting the fabric to fit the pattern as Lopez *had never* been in a combat unit. Plenty of trauma to go around in Iraq, no doubt, but what is the limit. Lopez's stressors seem to have been from recent deaths in the family. Time will tell more of the story.

I am personally more interested in 'amoral injury' - done not to self but others - as exposed in the Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in the Errol Morris documentary "The Unknown Known". Bush, Cheney and the crowd that pushed us into Iraq used the national power to kill hundreds of thousands in an unnecessary war. As a taxpayer and voter, I bear a piece of that.

DR still operating under the assertion that all that occurred in Iraq was justified and good. I guess he has to. If he displayed the same 'Come to Jesus' moment as McNamara did in 'Fog of War', he have to kill himself.

Apr. 04 2014 10:19 AM
Robert from NYC

Ok but are any soldiers without PTSD mass murderers?

Apr. 04 2014 10:18 AM
The Truth from Becky

I have never understood how so much training is given in bootcamp to become a "trained killer" but no such training is given to vets returning from war, they are just released back in society. There needs to be a transition back to every day life for vets who actively participated in war.

Apr. 04 2014 10:17 AM
Robert from NYC

Not in combat ok but he was driving trucks though a combat area and must have been affected by what was going around him.

Apr. 04 2014 10:15 AM
Soldier's Father from Westchester

Rachel Maddow made a strong case last night that this week's mass shooting is really another in the long and sad line of civilian mass shootings in the U.S., not a result of this shooter's military service, and that the media is unfairly tarring veterans. Could the guest comment on this?

Apr. 04 2014 10:14 AM
Ken Curtin from Brooklyn

Brian-

You were getting near the prevention side of the question when you asked about the content of training.

But what about a broader question on prevention? What military practices might serve to prevent moral injury?

It strikes me that psychological problems resulting from combat are predictable, as are physical injuries.

What can be done on the prevention side?

Apr. 04 2014 10:13 AM
Bonn from East Village

I think there are guards at Rikers who are vets of Iraq and Afghanistan. Wonder if PTSD is playing a role in what is happening there recently. Worth checking the psychological background of some of these guards.

Apr. 04 2014 10:12 AM
JF from dystopia

A country run on mass murder for corporate profit.

Apr. 04 2014 10:08 AM
sophia

Does moral injury apply to those who have genuinely done wrong?

Apr. 04 2014 10:08 AM
Nick from UWS

Oh really? Moral injury or confusion induced by war? They are just discovering this NOW? Really? Can people POSSIBLY be that stupid or unimaginative?

Apr. 04 2014 10:06 AM
jf from A CULTURE RUN BY MASS MURDERERS

HOW DARE YOU SAY ITS NOT ABOUT WAR CRIMES. OUR LEADERS ARE MASS MURDERERS. OBAMA BOMBED THOUSANDS WITH DRONES AND 300 CHILDREN. YOU CANT TRAIN HUMANS FOR PURE EVIL AND TELL THEM ITS GOOD. THE BODY KNOWS.

Apr. 04 2014 10:06 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

The birth of yet another new liberal "psychological condition." Yes, war is hell. What else is new?

Apr. 04 2014 10:03 AM
The Truth from Becky

Correction Brian! He was NOT suffering from PTSD he was being evaluated for it!

Apr. 04 2014 10:02 AM
Josh Karan from Washington Heights

Please recognize this April 4 anniversary of Dr. Martin Luthor King's murder, as he was also a victim of an assassination, after devoting his life to trying to establish an atmosphere of non-violence for all.

Apr. 04 2014 10:00 AM
James from NYC

@MC,
The show hasn't even started yet, it's two hours in your future ... you must set your watch in order to race to a daily judgment! Perhaps you should wait to hear what is discussed first? What does that say about your ability to examine and rationally discuss *any* issue, arrive at a logical conclusion based on things that *actually* happen, and then be taken seriously? You just come across as an anonymous kook who has peculiar issues with the BLS. Oh, by the way, this topic involves *real* tragedy and trauma, anguish, grief, experienced by tens of thousands of soldiers and their families. It's not simply your imaginary "me vs. them" with sides drawn up and typecast as you would see fit.

Apr. 04 2014 09:40 AM

@MC -

The only purpose your commenting before listening to the segment serves - have you read Mr. Woods piece? - is to demonstrate how the cocoon of ignorance works.

Just another case of ODS.

Apr. 04 2014 09:15 AM

Congratulations, Brian, on wasting no time in obeying the O’Bummer administration’s cherished dictum of “never let a crisis... or a tragedy... go to waste.”

Call in the usual suspects, er experts ...tut-tut the usual pretentious liberal reprimands ...retread the usual PC oversimplified view of evil in the world ...and then (box now checked) move on to the meaty stuff of defending the helicopter parenting of spoiled little princes and princesses.

Apr. 04 2014 08:03 AM

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