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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Patient to prophet: Building adaptive capacity in veterans who suffer military moral injury
by Antal, Chris J., D.Min., Hartford Seminary, 2017, 166; 10673402
Abstract (Summary)

The US wields the most powerful military in the history of the world, and deploys military personnel throughout the globe to fight, kill and die in armed conflict. US veterans number around 22.5 million or about 14% of the US population. Some veterans, troubled by violence, enroll in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and receive care from mental health providers who have developed, through their particular framework, the medical constructs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and moral injury (MI) to diagnose and/or "treat" these veterans as "patients." The PTSD construct casts veterans as "patients with a disorder," minimizes legitimate moral pain, and enables the US public to avoid the work of reckoning with harmful consequences of US military action for which they hold ultimate responsibility. MI, a more recent and fluid construct, occurs at the intersection of religion and violence and thus invites the contribution of chaplains. A focused MI group for combat veterans within the VHA co-facilitated by a chaplain and psychologist provides veterans the opportunity for frame breaking and reframing and holds the possibility of systemic change in a response grounded not in individual therapy or treatment but rather in shared spiritual and moral community. A public ceremony with ritual and spiritual discipline creates sanctuary for veterans to provide adaptive leadership, as they transform themselves from patient to prophet, bearing witness to unsanitized and inglorious truths while the US public listens and wrestles with issues of culpability, obligation, and moral responsibility. The outcome is post-traumatic growth and spiritual developmentā€”indicated by greater moral engagement, awareness, forgiveness, and compassion. Such adaptive change may lead to increased resistance to militarism and greater reverence for all life on this fragile earth.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Watts, Benjamin
School: Hartford Seminary
School Location: United States -- Connecticut
Source: DAI-A 79/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Religion, Mental health, Ethics
Keywords: Military History, Moral Injury, Public Health, Public Policy, Spiritual Care, Theology
Publication Number: 10673402
ISBN: 978-0-355-38312-6
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