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        Almost Sunrise | Lesson Plan Clips

        Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a term many students may know. It is a psychological diagnosis associated with individuals who have experienced trauma, such as assault, natural disaster, abuse and war, either as civilians or as combatants. Less familiar is the term moral injury, or a wound to the soul, caused by participation in events that violate one’s deeply held sense of right and wrong. Both PTSD and moral injury affect veterans and contribute significantly to the alarming 20 veteran suicides that occur every day in the United States on average according to the most recent study from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Yet, moral injury is less well-known than PTSD, and appropriate treatment for it is not well understood.

        This lesson invites student to gain a deeper understanding of moral injury and develop greater empathy for the challenges returning veterans face. Using video segments from the documentary film Almost Sunrise, students will learn about moral injury through the experiences of Tom and Anthony, two young Iraq war veterans struggling to heal their own moral injuries while raising awareness of veteran suicide as they complete a walking journey from Wisconsin to California. Students will conduct independent research, analyze the conditions and contexts in which moral injury occurs and explore effective mental health therapies and treatments.

        Clip 1: "What is Moral Injury?"

        This clip begins with a definition of moral injury as a “wound to the soul, caused by participation in events that violate one’s deeply held sense of right and wrong.” It leads into a conversation between Tom, one of the veterans featured in the film, and a monk.

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        Clip 2: "Diagnosing Moral Injury”

        Tom and Anthony meet a policeman who shares that police officers have suicide rates similar to those of vets. He explains how he has learned to cope with his emotions.

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        Clip 3: “‘Just War’ and Its Relationship to Moral Injury"

        Tom, Anthony and their friend Emmet describe their perspectives on the purpose of the Iraq war and how the government’s changing story about it influenced their perception of the actions they took there on their country’s behalf.

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        Clip 4: "Wolf Walker"

        Tom and Anthony meet Wolf Walker, one of the members of a Native American tribe they visit on their journey across the country. At the end of the clip, Wolf Walker shares his family’s experience with war and his tribe’s perspective that a person’s power to heal comes from within.

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        Clip 5: "Treating Moral Injury"

        Tom talks about attending a “power breath” training, where he practiced meditation and deep breathing to make space for deep reflection., He talks about how that experience allowed him to begin to forgive himself and heal.

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