“Moral injury” is the distressing psychological, behavioral, social, and sometimes spiritual aftermath of exposure to events that contradict deeply held moral beliefs and expectations.
Bob Waldrep of Warriors on Mission describes it like this: A Bible-believing soldier who understands the Scriptures forbids taking another life.
“And now I've had a rifle put in my hand and I'm asked to kill this guy,” he says. “So there's a great conflict, and how do you overcome that? So it creates guilt and shame."
The trauma doesn’t necessarily include nightmares about being on the battlefield, or jumping when they hear a loud noise, but there is internal conflict over how family members, for example, would view a loved one who has taken another life.
Waldrep says sometimes it takes a long time and a lot of help, but one thing is needed above everything else: Forgiveness.
“Because if you have guilt or shame, there's a need for forgiveness to take place,” he advises. “They say you have to be forgiven by someone you believe has the authority to forgive --- pastor, priest, rabbi, football coach, sergeant --- but, of course, you and I know that there's only one place that you can find true forgiveness and that's through Jesus Christ.”