Point of View: Moral Injury, the Invisible Wound

To end our Memorial Day we watched Almost Sunrise, WPR’s important program about veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan post 9/11 when we sent 2.5 million people off to war. If we as a society don’t discuss what war is and why we are fighting wars, we are doing a great disservice to our soldiers. “War damages the people who participate in it.”

What happened during the Viet Nam war was a movement questioning the legitimacy of war and because of that, people in political power and the military engaged in a project to reinstate the valorization of war so that the country could go to war without question. You may remember bumper stickers with the slogan ” UNITED WE STAND” inferring one wasn’t a good American if one disagreed with the war. Discussion ensued of denial such a thing as the Viet Nam Syndrome. At the same time there was also a deliberate cutting of services withdrawing VA funding , fighting for PTSD disability and the legitimacy of Agent Orange treatment.

What we do know is moral injury is inevitable. It’s the guilt and shame felt after one has been in combat. Now the importance of reconnecting with other people, having ceremonies of forgiveness to remove the stress on a regular basis are helpful for some along with stress breathing activities and inner meditation to help some vets find their inner self.

Not only medics witnessed a lot of death. 500,000 people died post 9/11. A volunteer military even alienated our servicemen more than ever as moral injury is something our vets and their families are having to deal with on a daily basis. There are no parades welcoming soldiers back home because their actions weren’t justified. Alcoholism and drug abuse are prevalent and the increase of suicide added to the dead once our soldiers returned home.

Almost Sunrise is the powerful story about 2 Milwaukee vets who walked 2700 miles cross country to California to see a squadron buddy. Their mission was to bring attention to the struggles of veterans dealing with PTSD and hopefully have healing from their personal trauma. It’s definitely worth your while to watch to hear what our country has done to people in the name of greed and war.

Here’s a link to Almost Sunrise’s trailer: http://www.pbs.org/pov/almostsunrise/video-almost-sunrise-trailer-2017/

2 thoughts on “Point of View: Moral Injury, the Invisible Wound

  1. Thank you so much for writing this. You are spot on. If we are only “allowed” to “honor our veterans,” then we are never allowed to question the reasons politicians use the military to prop up big business, benefit arms manufacturers, gain control over resources, punish political opponents, divert electorates’ attentions, and more. Vets for Peace works to bring the full picture into the discussion. (https://www.veteransforpeace.org) Their cost of war calculator is eye opening. Bill Lueders had a good article about this in The Progressive Magazine last year (https://progressive.org/magazine/thanks-for-what-service-editors-comment/) and just recently, an honest and overwhelming outpouring of the rest of the story came out in response to a US Army tweet, ” How has your service changed you?” Read the thread at https://twitter.com/usarmy/status/1131704927963766785. This is important because that high school you wrote about a few days ago is prime recruiting ground for the next generation of veterans and, because of limits placed on the acceptable scope of the conversation, in most schools, those wishing to counter recruiters’ efforts (using, for example American Friends’ materials – https://www.afsc.org/resource/counter-recruitment) may have a hard time getting heard, as if it is a public school’s responsibility to fill the ranks for the next war of choice. Thanks again. We need to be aware of the big picture.


  2. My brother was a Viet Nam vet. My husband and I are both vets, but we did not serve during wartime. I have great compassion for our wounded veterans and for those who gave their lives for our freedom. Thank you for this nice post. Peggy


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