Although post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among Veterans is most often associated with the trauma of combat, similar symptoms can be caused by what is referred to as a moral injury. Regardless of the cause of your PTSD, however, a Veterans disability attorney can help protect your right to the benefits you need to provide for yourself and your family.
Defining Moral Injury
A moral injury is a phycological injury caused by actions that violate a person’s core moral values, conscience, or personal principles. This could include:
- Being forced to kill or harm others
- Witnessing people dying or suffering, especially vulnerable groups such as women and children
- Failing to prevent immoral action by others
- Being asked to obey orders that are viewed as immoral or inhumane
Symptoms of Moral Injury
Much like PTSD triggered by a specific combat incident, moral injury can cause symptoms such as:
- Substance abuse
Moral injury is also linked to:
- Social alienation
- Trouble trusting others
- Feelings of grief, guilt, or shame
- Inability to feel pleasure
Diagnosing and Treating Moral Injury
The VA uses a number of diagnostic tools to assess moral injury in Veterans. For example:
- The 20-item Moral Injury Questionnaire (MIQ, 19) is used to assess a veteran’s exposure and frequency of events often experienced in war.
- The 9-item Moral Injury Events Scale (MIES, 21) is used to evaluate responses to war-related events that include perpetration by self, by others, and betrayal.
- The 17-item Expression of Moral Injury Scale (EMIS, 22) looks at a Veteran’s experience of self- and other-directed moral emotions related to military experiences.
- The Trauma-Related Guilt Inventory (23) or Trauma-Related Shame Inventory (24) can help assess core features of moral injury.
Trauma-focused PTSD treatment such as Prolonged Exposure (PE) and Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) has been shown to help Veterans struggling with moral injury. Individual or group therapy focused on compassion, forgiveness, and making a plan to live in line with moral values going forward may also be beneficial.
How We Can Help
If you’re struggling with PTSD and moral injury as the result of your service, our experienced VA disability attorneys can explain your options and help you determine the best way to maximize your available disability benefits. Contact the office of Sean Kendall, Attorney-at-Law, today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.