Moral injury: What’s the use? — tyler boudreau


The words ‘moral’ and ‘injury’ each hold complex and multiple meanings. This paper considers the politics of framing soldiers’ distress as ‘moral injury’, and the utility of this term as a way to prompt moral questioning and transformation. Unlike PTSD, moral injury raises the need for individuals and society to grapple with the moral implications of war. For military and veterans’ organisations in particular, the idea of moral injury has been recognised as a profound challenge. Counter conceptualisations such as ‘inner conflict’ have been mobilised to reframe soldiers’ distress as a subjective misperception that requires a reassessment of a soldier’s own values, not the values and actions of the military. In this paper, boudreau argues that the value of moral
injury as a concept lies in the actions we take to address it, the clinical practices we use to treat it and the spaces we make for those affected to question, grow and change. Rather than representing an individual inner conflict, moral injury demands that we treat the violence and harm done with social permission under the auspices of the military as a collective disruption that requires collective moral reckoning if there is to be repair.