I’ve been terrible about keeping up with this blog. Let’s get my excuses over with. First, we took a cruise around New Zealand and Australia. Got home in time for Christmas and then the Good Chaplain got hurt and ended up having back surgery. He is on his last few days of convalescent leave and doing fine. Oh, and I am blogging a book about his experiences in Africa. You can find it at easternafricastoriesofhopeandfaith.com. Enough excuses and shameless plugs.
What I really want to talk about is the second part of the moral injury discussion we had back in September. If you click here you can find the first article to refresh your memory. To help people suffering a moral injury, both the church and community need to get involved.
“Getting churches to take on this work is crucial,” said Rita Nakashima Brock, co-author of
“Soul Repair — Recovering from Moral Injury after War” and keynote speaker at the Chaplains’ conference where we received this information.
- Engage in deep listening and be open to hearing the truth without prescribing outcomes or offering pat answers.
- Support healthy lifestyles to reduce risks. “Churches offer sociability that’s life saving. Being isolated is not good (for the person suffering moral injury),” Brock said.
- Offer rituals and programs to process moral injury. “The value of ritual is you don’t have to think about it, you just do it. It gets buried deep within you,” Brock said.
- Attend to ways to create safe space for PTSD injuries.
- Provide long-term recovery support via friendship over a lifetime and offer opportunities for service to others.
- Conduct reflections on the moral responsibility of the entire community.
“If our mindset is collective then we don’t get into the ‘you’re wrong and I’m right’ mentality. We owe to each other to hold each other accountable for the good of everyone,” Brock said.
Since about half of all the soldiers fighting in the most recent wars are reservists or National Guard, they often have no support system to which to come home. Communities play a role in recovery in this instance whether it is a neighborhood, a whole town or a work community.
- Develop regular programs of deep listening and lamentation.
- Support a veteran’s recovery and transition to civilian life.
- Support families of soldiers while the soldier is away.
- Prepare families for homecoming.
- Educate employers of veterans on possible issues.
- Be attuned to secondary trauma and support other professionals that experience moral injury such as people in the medical field, law enforcement and social workers.
- Attend to care for the caregivers.
“The whole person goes to war — body, mind, psyche, spirit — and the person who left for war will never be the same. Our mission is to bring people all the way home,” Brock said.
For more information on this topic, go to Soul Repair Center, Brite Divinity School