The Soul Repair Project
Exploring Moral Injury and Religious Resources for Moral Repair
in War Veterans
MARCH 18-19. 2011, BERKELEY, CA
Register to attend at:
This conference will explore newly emerging VA research on moral injury and examine effective strategies, theologies, and practices in religious communities that can help veterans heal from moral injury and support their families. Veterans and their families are especially welcome to attend.
Download the conference flier for printing: http://sksm.edu/info/images/Soul-Repair-Project-flyer.pdf
Fri., 3/18: Graduate Theological Union, 2400 Ridge Rd. Dinner Bd Rm
12-1 pm Check-in, reception, introduction by Rev. Dr. Rita N. Brock and Rev. Gabriella Lettini, conf. organizers
1-3 Panel of Veterans, including Tyler Boudreau, author of Packing Inferno: The Unmaking of a Marine, and Camilo Mejia, author of Road to
Ar-Ramadhi. Facilitator: Rev. Herman Keizer, U.S. Army Colonel (ret.)
2:45-3:15 Lecture by Dr. Shira Maguen, clinician at San Francisco VA Medical Center and clinical professor at UCSF in the Dept of Psychiatry
3:15-4:15 Panel of Religious Leaders including:
Rev. Lizette Larson-Miller, Professor of Liturgical Leadership and Dean of the Chapel, Church Divinity School of the Pacific
Imam Ustadh Abdullah bin Hamid Ali, resident scholar at Zaytuna Institute
Rabbi Steven Jacobs, Rabbi Emeritus at Temple Kol Tikvah, Woodland Hills
6:30-9:00pm Reception and Book Reading with Tyler Boudreau and Mejia Mejia, veterans of Iraq, at Starr King School, 2441 LeConte Ave, Reading starts at 7 pm
Sat., 3/19: First Congregational Church, Berkeley, 2345 Channing Way
9-10:30 am Presentation on Moral Injury, Rev. Dr. Kent Drescher, Mental Health Clinician with Pathways Home Program and Menlo Park VA, followed by discussion
11-12 Response by Panel (Brock, Lettini, Mejia, Keizer, and Jacobs)
12-1 lunch included
1-3 Workshops to discuss new strategies and next steps
3:15-4:30 Final Plenary and Closing
1.5 CEUs available. Registration $20 for veterans and families and other co-sponsor members: Baptist Peace Fellowship, Buddhist Peace Fellowship, Christian Peace Witness, Center for Islamic Studies, First Congregational Church, Graduate Theological Union, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Jewish Peace Fellowship, Oakland Peace Center, Orthodox Peace Fellowship, Pax Christi, Presbyterian Church USA, Starr King School, Unitarian Universalist Association, United Church of Christ, United Methodist Church GBCS. (full list at www.conscienceinwar.org/about/co-sponsors.)
For further information: email Rita Brock at firstname.lastname@example.org or Gabriella Lettini at email@example.com
WHY THIS CONFERENCE AND WHY NOW?
Suicide rates among active duty military and veterans are currently at alarming and unprecedented rates. In December 2009, Veteran's Administration mental health professionals described a new concept called "moral injury," the devastating negative consequences of "perpetrating, failing to prevent, or bearing witness to acts that transgress deeply held moral beliefs and expectations." (Litz et. al., "Moral Injury and Moral Repair in War Veterans: A Preliminary Model and Intervention Strategy"www.bu.edu/ssw/research/social/pdf/Moral%20Injury%20CPR.doc). They observe that it is a significant contributor to clinical depression, addiction, violent behavior, and suicide.
The aftermath of service in war, for veterans and their families and faith communities, is spiritually devastating, and the current wars, VA clinicians suggest, create conditions that increase the exposure to moral injury. However, veterans who raise moral issues such as guilt and remorse are usually referred to clergy.
Treatment protocols for moral injury suggested by VA clinicians include access to both a caring, nonjudgmental moral authority and a welcoming community that can receive the testimony of veterans, provide means for making restitution, and offer forgiveness. Such protocols indicate that trauma and spirituality often intersect.
Healing the psyche requires healing the spirit.
Alleviating the suffering of moral injury is an important responsibility of religious people in the United States. We must find ways to address guilt and remorse about moral transgressions so grave as to threaten the individual's soul and their communities. Religious communities and scholars can create robust and effective practices to address moral injury and offer teaching about crucial life and death moral issues.
This call to understand and heal moral injury also offers faith communities an opportunity to serve a wider common good that can extend the study and treatment of moral injury into other areas of society, for example law enforcement officers, gang members, by-standers who witness violence, prisoners, and the formerly incarcerated. Through such work we can contribute to efforts to reduce the polarizing, violent tone of discourse in American public life and offer new approaches to complex and difficult moral problems, grounded in restorative justice.