It was during my first interview with Ron that I began to see more than just a friendship with Adam, but a relationship that had become very healing for both. In the next clip, I would like to flash forward briefly to a recent conversation I filmed between Adam and Ron, where we get a rare glimpse into the reality facing many soldiers in duty.

While listening to Ron, it hit me that he was only 20 during the incident in Iraq that he so articulately describes to Adam in the clip below. For me, his first-hand account is a testimony to why some psychiatrist are using the term ‘moral injury’ instead of PTSD to describe the personal struggles of many returning soldiers.

Jonathan Shay, a Veterans Administration psychiatrist and recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant has a lot to say about what veterans like Ron are going through.

In this article, Dr. Shay claims that what sometimes happens in war may more accurately be called a moral injury. There is a shrinking of the individuals’ moral horizon and the ability to care for others. He goes on to say recovery only occurs in community. Their peers are the key to their recovery as they share their story in a way and place where they will not be judged.

As you will see in our next blog, Adam and Ron’s friendship and their practice of meditation together become a beginning of healing for both.

3 Responses to “Ron’s ‘Moral Injury’: A Struggle with PTSD”

  1. Brenda Harrah

    Thank you for posting this young man’s story and shining a light on the war in the middle east from this angle…when will our government and it’s citizens hell bent on power, money and dominating other countries realize THEY are the ones who are being evil…not only is our government destroying the citizens of Afghanistan, they are also destroying the mind’s bodies and souls of these young American men…who are going to be struggling for the rest of their lives trying to wrap their minds around the heinous acts they were made to perform by our government…Ben Franklin’s words have never rang truer than today, “There never was a good war or a bad peace.”

  2. Jenny

    Just found your site (via TED) and am enjoying exploring what you’ve been up to.

    I can’t begin to imagine what soldiers (as here) have experienced but think the term moral injury is excellent: they have had to commit acts which are completely against human nature (or do I mean our morals here and now?) on behalf of the state.

    Sadly PTSD is used by states and insurers as a cover for brain and neurological injury: cheaper and meds easier to provide than longterm rehab.

    I suffered an acquired brain injury and other serious injuries (ignored/denied and described as only PTSD) during a bungled operation in the UK. Hospitals and doctors lied to my face, in letters and in my medical records, when their solicitors lied to my GP I went out to kill myself: no chance now of ever getting the truth and my GP, my portal to healthcare, closed. He chose to believe them rather than me.

    I think your term moral injury applies to this/me. I described it as betrayal traumas, both fit.

    Interestingly I think I was lessscared by my brain injury and it’s bizarre symptoms (such as synaesthesia, walls/floors moving and double vision) because when younger I had experimented with altered states – LSD etc. Without that knowledge and experience I am sure I would have been more terrified, more willing to accept their purely mental health diagnosis and would not have been able to describe (though poorly then) what I was suffering.

    Therefore I applaud your work on ‘schizophrenia’ and embracing all human experience. I refused pharma drugs (SSRIs for my depression at loss of my previous self) and am sure I achieved far greater adaptation and healing.

    Some of my story is here on Vimeo:



Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)