What Have We Done: The Moral Injury of Our Longest Wars ~ David Wood (2016)

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David Wood’s investigative book What Have We Done: The Moral Injury of Our Longest Wars makes use of his experience as a journalist, war veteran and conscientious objector to Vietnam to study the effects of moral injury on combat veterans. Wood posits that PTSD and Moral Injury are two distinct but equally damaging wounds that effect servicemen and women, but that they have been generally rolled together and ineffectively treated. Wood defines PTSD as your body’s physical reaction to stress, and trauma, whilst Moral injury is an injury to your soul – or rather how you feel about something you have done. He argues that the hero worship returning soldiers receive from those at home worsens moral injury, as those suffering from it feel guilt and often self hatred for what they have done. For instance, one soldier storied in the book feels extreme guilt for having killed a child, although the child was armed and being told to shoot him. He believes that killing the child makes him a terrible human being, but within the context of war, it was considered the “right thing” to do. Wood studies the causes, symptoms and government responses to moral injury, along with treatment that is available, vs. What is not discussed. Peppered throughout with personal stories of his own, and those of other combat veterans, What Have We Done is a fine piece of investigative journalism, making the thesis accessible to readers. This is a book designed for anyone interested in psychology, mental health, combat stories, and the government treatment of combat personal. (291 pages)

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