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Upcoming Webinars Resources

Soul Repair

Since 2012, The Soul Repair Center at Brite Divinity School has offered public education and conducted research on moral injury and recovery for military veterans. During this time, it has educated religious and non-profit communities, employers, educators, religious leaders, chaplains, seminarians, and medical care-givers about the ways to support processes of healing for those who experience military moral injury and their families.

Beginning in July 2017, Dr. Nancy J. Ramsay, now Emerita Professor of Pastoral Theology and Pastoral Care and former Chair of the Soul Repair Center National Advisory Board, became Director of the Soul Repair Center. Under Dr. Ramsay’s leadership, the Center is giving primary attention to developing resources for equipping faith communities from many religious traditions to engage in caring practices with veterans affected by moral injury and their families.

Since its official launch, the Center has been featured in national media stories. It is a major resource for:

  • Identifying or developing resources for religious leaders and faith communities to:
    • Welcome veterans into their communities and serve the spiritual needs of veterans;
    • Offer hospitality to veterans and friends and families struggling with moral injury;
    • Develop ritual resources and study scriptures that address moral injury in their communities; and
    • Provide useful programmatic resources for diverse religious communities.
  • Providing resources for religious leaders, military chaplains, VA chaplains, and professional caregivers such as
  • Resources for working with sacred texts to provide healing
  • Strategies for providing support in faith communities and recognizing strengths; and
  • Linking therapeutic resources with the predictable needs created by moral injury for veterans and their families.
  • Organizing specialized and regional programs such as:
    • Religious associations and congregations
    • Colleges and Universities
    • Veteran Associations
    • Civic and Social Groups
    • Medical care-givers
  • Identifying or recruiting development of re-entry and reintegration processes that support long-term recovery and a hopeful future.
  • Fostering research into moral injury and offering an online information source for understanding moral injury and the many dimensions of recovery especially for faith communities and religious leaders.
  • Supporting non-polarizing, complex, and engaged conversations about the moral questions that govern the conduct of war and other forms of socially sanctioned violence. These conversations enable non-partisan community engagement across traditional political and religious divides and foster deep listening practices that better serve the individual struggles of conscience in veterans.
  • Disseminating information and training for places around the world that struggle in the aftermath of war and violence and that seek opportunities and avenues to support spiritual healing in their societies.

US Department of Veterans Affairs- Afghanistan: Let’s Talk About It

Earlier this week, the US Department of Veterans Affairs provided the following information and resources via email.
Veterans from all eras are reacting to the events in Afghanistan, such as the U.S withdrawal and the takeover by the Taliban. You are not alone.
Veterans may question the meaning of their service or whether it was worth the sacrifices they made. They may feel more moral distress about experiences they had during their service. It’s normal to feel this way. Talk with your friends and families, reach out to battle buddies, connect with a peer-to-peer network, or sign up for mental health services. Scroll down for a list common reactions and coping advice.
Resources available right now
  • Veterans Crisis Line – If you are having thoughts of suicide, call 1-800-273-8255, then PRESS 1 or visit http://www.veteranscrisisline.net/
  • For emergency mental health care, you can also go directly to your local VA medical center 24/7 regardless of your discharge status or enrollment in other VA health care.
  • Vet Centers – Discuss how you feel with other Veterans in these community-based counseling centers. 70% of Vet Center staff are Veterans. Call 1-877-927-8387 or find one near you.
  • VA Mental Health Services Guide – This guide will help you sign up and access mental health services.
  • MakeTheConnection.net – information, resources, and Veteran to Veteran videos for challenging life events and experiences with mental health issues.
  • RallyPoint – Talk to other Veterans online. Discuss: What are your feelings as the Taliban reclaim Afghanistan after 20 years of US involvement?
  • Download VA’s self-help apps – Tools to help deal with common reactions like, stress, sadness, and anxiety. You can also track your symptoms over time.
  • Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) – Request a Peer Mentor
  • VA Women Veterans Call Center – Call or text 1-855-829-6636 (M-F 8AM – 10PM & SAT 8AM – 6:30PM ET)
  • VA Caregiver Support Line – Call 1-855-260-3274 (M-F 8AM – 10PM & SAT 8AM – 5PM ET)
  • Together We Served -Find your battle buddies through unit pages
  • George W. Bush Institute – Need help or want to talk? Check In or call:1-630-522-4904 or email: checkin@veteranwellnessalliance.org
  • Elizabeth Dole Foundation Hidden Heroes – Join the Community
  • American Red Cross Military Veteran Caregiver Network – Peer Support and Mentoring
  • Team Red, White & Blue – Hundreds of events weekly. Find a chapter in your area.
  • Student Veterans of America – Find a campus chapter to connect with.
  • Team Rubicon – Find a local support squad.
In reaction to current events in Afghanistan, Veterans may:
  • Feel frustrated, sad, helpless, grief or distressed
  • Feel angry or betrayed
  • Experience an increase in mental health symptoms like symptoms of PTSD or depression
  • Sleep poorly, drink more or use more drugs
  • Try to avoid all reminders or media or shy away from social situations
  • Have more military and homecoming memories
Veterans may question the meaning of their service or whether it was worth the sacrifices they made. They may feel more moral distress about experiences they had during their service.
Veterans may feel like they need to expect and/or prepare for the worst. For example, they may:
  • Become overly protective, vigilant, and guarded
  • Become preoccupied by danger
  • Feel a need to avoid being shocked by, or unprepared for, what may happen in the future
Feeling distress is a normal reaction to negative events, especially ones that feel personal. It can be helpful to let yourself feel those feelings rather than try to avoid them. Often, these feelings will naturally run their course. If they continue without easing up or if you feel overwhelmed by them, the suggestions below can be helpful.
Strategies for Managing Ongoing Distress
At this moment, it may seem like all is lost, like your service or your sacrifices were for nothing. Consider the ways that your service made a difference, the impact it had on others’ lives or on your own life. Remember that now is just one moment in time and that things will continue to change.
It can be helpful to focus on the present and to engage in the activities that are most meaningful and valuable to you. Is there something you can do today that is important to you? This can be as an individual, a family member, a parent, or a community member. Something that is meaningful to you in regard to your work or your spirituality? Such activities won’t change the past or the things you can’t control, but they can help life feel meaningful and reduce distress, despite the things you cannot change.
It can also help to consider your thinking. Ask yourself if your thoughts are helpful to you right now. Are there ways you can change your thinking to be more accurate and less distressing? For example, are you using extreme thinking where you see the situation as all bad or all good? If so, try and think in less extreme terms. For example, rather than thinking “my service in Afghanistan was useless” consider instead “I helped keep Afghanistan safe.”
Finally, consider more general coping strategies that you may want to try including:
  • Engage in Positive Activities. Try to engage in positive, healthy, or meaningful activities, even if they are small, simple actions. Doing things that are rewarding, meaningful, or enjoyable, even if you don’t feel like it, can make you feel better.
  • Stay Connected. Spend time with people who give you a sense of security, calm, or happiness, or those who best understand what you are going through.
  • Practice Good Self Care. Look for positive coping strategies that help you manage your emotions. Listening to music, exercising, practicing breathing routines, spending time in nature or with animals, journaling, or reading inspirational text are some simple ways to help manage overwhelming or distressing emotions.
  • Stick to Your Routines. It can be helpful to stick to a schedule for when you sleep, eat, work, and do other day-to-day activities.
  • Limit Media Exposure. Limit how much news you take in if media coverage is increasing your distress.
  • Use a mobile app. Consider one of VA’s self-help apps (see https://www.ptsd.va.gov/appvid/mobile/) such as PTSD Coach which has tools that can help you deal with common reactions like, stress, sadness, and anxiety. You can also track your symptoms over time.
  • PTSD Coach Online. A series of online video coaches will guide you through 17 tools to help you manage stress. PTSD Coach Online is used on a computer, rather than a mobile device, and therefore can offer tools that involve writing.
If you develop your own ways of adapting to ongoing events and situations, you may gain a stronger sense of being able to deal with challenges, a greater sense of meaning or purpose, and an ability to mentor and support others in similar situations.

“Moral Injury Recovery in the Aftermath of COVID”
An online course on moral injury recovery processes for chaplains, clergy, spiritual carers to apply in their contexts

September 20, 2021
November 2, 2021
October 4, 2021
November 8, 2021
December 13, 2021
12:00- 8:30 p.m. ET
Cost: $25-$150 (sliding scale)
Learn more and register at https://shay-moral-injury-center.teachable.com/p/home
Hosted by The Shay Moral Injury Center at Volunteers of America

 

 

Moral Injury: A Guidebook for Understanding and Engagement, a resource on moral injury and care for those affected by it includes chapters by wwo authors associated with the Soul Repair Center, Dr. Joseph MacDonald and Dr. Nancy J. Ramsay.

Military Moral Injury and Spiritual Care A Resource for Religious Leaders and Professional Caregivers by Nancy J. Ramsay, Carrie Doehring.

Exploring Moral Injury in Sacred Texts, Edited by Dr. Joseph McDonald and sponsored by The Soul Repair Center

Soul Repair: Recovering from Moral Injury after War by Rita Nakashima Brock, former Director of The Soul Repair Center, and Gabriella Lettini