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.