We educate the public and do research about recovery from moral injury.
What is Moral Injury?
What is Moral Injury?
“Moral injury results when soldiers violate their core moral beliefs, and in evaluating their behavior negatively, they feel they no longer live in a reliable, meaningful world and can no longer be regarded as decent human beings. They may feel this even if what they did was warranted and unavoidable. Killing, torturing prisoners, abusing dead bodies, or failing to prevent such acts can elicit moral injury.
The Consequences of violating one’s conscience . . . can be devastating. Responses include overwhelming depression, guilt, and self-medication through alcohol or drugs. Moral injury can lead veterans to feelings of worthlessness, remorse, and despair; they may feel as if they lost their souls in combat and are no longer who they were. Connecting emotionally to others becomes impossible for those trapped inside the walls of such feelings. When the consequences become overwhelming, the only relief may seem to be to leave this life behind.”
Soul Repair: Recovering from Moral Injury After War, xv-xvi
We offer education and resources to help congregations become places of recovery and homecoming for Veterans.
A think tank of senior scholars in pastoral theology and pastoral counseling had its initial meeting in February 2014. Their research will become the basis for curriculum materials, new religious resources, and training programs, and via scholarly associations, the Center will encourage the integration of this work in Clinical Pastoral Education requirements, spiritual formation programs, continuing education programs, liturgical studies, and lay and chaplain training.
In 2015, the Center will organize an interdisciplinary think tank on the relationship of neuroscience to ritual studies, spiritual and moral formation, and theological meaning-making to assist religious communities in understanding how to create and conduct transformative ritual processes to address moral injury.
Both the current and future think tanks will create interfaith resources, such as books, articles, and syllabi, for teaching about moral injury, with particular attention to the training of religious leaders, chaplains, and spiritual counselors. These efforts will inform and be informed by the new program unit of the American Academy of Religion, the Moral Injury and Recovery in Religion, Society, and Culture Group.
Members of the pastoral theology and pastoral counseling think tank:
- Dr. Basheer Ahmed was born in India, after completing medical school from Karachi, Pakistan; he completed Post Graduate studies in Psychiatry at Glasgow University Scotland. He is a board certified Psychiatrist and has held faculty positions at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York and Dayton University School of Medicine in Ohio. He served as professor of Psychiatry at South Western Medicine School Dallas, TX before starting the private practice in Fort Worth, TX. He served as chief of Psychiatry at Veteran Administration Hospital during 1976-1978 where he treated a large number of Vietnam veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In his private practice in Fort Worth, he continued to treat patients suffering from PTSD. In 1995, Dr. Ahmed founded Muslim Community Center for Human Services, a medical/social service organization helping indigent residents of Dallas/Fort Worth area irrespective of religion, race and country of origin. The center provides charitable medical services and counseling services to the victims of domestic violence and child abuse. He has been involved in interfaith dialogue with Clergy, Rabbis and other religious leaders since 1995. He is the member of the Board of Directors of Multi-Cultural Alliance (MCA) of Fort Worth, TX. It promotes understanding and respect among all races, religions and cultures through advocacy, conflict resolution and education.
- Dr. Dale P. Andrews joined the faculty of Vanderbilt University Divinity School and Graduate Department of Religion in 2010 as Distinguished Professor of Homiletics, Social Justice, and Practical Theology. Previously he served on the faculty of Boston University School of Theology as the Martin Luther King Jr. Professor of Homiletics and Pastoral Theology. Dr. Andrews earned his M.A. and Ph.D. at Vanderbilt University and M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary. He also was a visiting research fellow at the University of Oxford. An ordained minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, Dr. Andrews has served AME Zion churches in Connecticut, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. In addition to multiple chapters in diverse volumes and journal articles, he has authored Practical Theology for Black Churches: Bridging Black Theology and African American Folk Religion (2002), and co-authored Listening to Listeners: Homiletical Case Studies (2004) and New Proclamation: Advent through Holy Week, Year A, 2004-2005 (2004). He also is co-editor of a multivolume lectionary commentary series, Preaching God’s Transforming Justice (2011, 2012, 2013). Dr. Andrews formerly served as co-editor to the journal Family Ministry, and now serves as co-editor of the journal Homiletic. Current research projects include a co-edited volume in black practical theology, a homiletics textbook based in apprenticeship pedagogy, and another in black preaching prophetic traditions.
- Dr. Carrie Doehring is an Associate Professor of Pastoral Care at Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado. She directs a one year post-MDiv Masters of Arts in Pastoral and Spiritual Care for military chaplains. She is ordained in the Presbyterian Church, USA with 17 years of congregational ministerial experience. As a licensed psychologist she explores how people draw upon religious faith and spirituality to cope with experiences like trauma and prejudice. She wrote the chapter “Religiously-Linked Discrimination, Prejudice, and Victimization” for the 2013 APA Handbook of Psychology, Religion, and Spirituality (Vol. II). She currently is writing a revised and expanded edition of The Practice of Pastoral Care: A Postmodern Approach (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2006), which is used as a textbook in introductory courses and clinical pastoral education. These revisions include a theory of change unique to pastoral and spiritual care whose goal is liberative spiritual integration. In part the process of change involves collaboratively identifying emotionally-charged lived theologies of suffering shaped by, for example, trauma-related moral injuries. Her work has been influenced by qualitative interviews with Vietnam veterans whose Buddhist practices foster self-compassion that dramatically changes the ways they cope with and understand suffering arising from war-time experiences.
- Rabbi Kim Sara Geringer is a member of the faculty at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in New York City. At HUC-JIR she teaches courses on pastoral care and counseling, family systems theory, and congregational studies in both the rabbinical and cantorial programs and supervises the fieldwork of rabbinical students. She is also the rabbi of Congregation Sha’arey Ha-Yam in Manahawkin, NJ. From 1999 – 2009, Rabbi Geringer was the Assistant Director of the Department of Worship, Music and Religious Living at the Union for Reform Judaism. In that capacity, she was involved in all aspects of the Reform Movement’s worship transformation efforts, authoring numerous articles and developing programmatic material on worship and spirituality. Rabbi Geringer is also a clinical social worker who worked as a psychotherapist for 15 years prior to attending rabbinical school. She is an EMT and received training in trauma debriefing work; in that capacity she has worked with families of 9/11 victims and with earthquake survivors in Haiti. Rabbi Geringer and her husband live in New Jersey and are the parents of two grown children.
- Dr. Larry Kent Graham is Professor of Pastoral Theology and Care at Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado. Dr. Graham received his Master of Divinity from Luther Theological Seminary and my Ph. D. from Princeton Theological Seminary and is an ordained in the United Church of Christ and a Diplomate in the American Association of Pastoral Counselors. In addition to teaching responsibilities at Iliff, Dr. Graham is a pastoral counselor and supervisor and provide consultation to organizations and congregations. His research interests concern theology and pastoral care, the impact of war on the pastoral care of families, ministry and human sexuality, and public pastoral theology. He has recently been working on public lamentation and memorial processes. I am married to Sheila Greeve Davaney. Together, they have four children, five grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
- Chaplain Shareda Hosein (Lt. Col. U.S. Army Reserves) serves as a Community Muslim Chaplain in the Greater Boston area in association with the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center (ISBCC). She is a founding member and treasurer of the Association of Muslim Chaplains and holds a Graduate Certificate in Islamic Chaplaincy and Masters’ in Islamic Studies Christian-Muslim Relations from Hartford Seminary in Hartford, CT. Shareda co-hosted a weekly radio program on WRKO in Boston, “Talking Religion,” from 2006-2008. She has written a chapter in the book, “Spirituality, Women, Transformative Leadership: Where Grace Meets Power” (2011), which represent an interfaith look on the expression of spirituality in life. Living in a post 9/11 world, she has helped to build bridges from her presence in conferences, seminars, faith gathering and has spoken at numerous academic institutes, places of worship, and small group settings on the topic of Islam and living as a Muslim in the West. She has 34 years of military service but her current job as a Cultural Engagement Officer, utilizes her skills as a chaplain to help educate her military colleagues to better understand Islam and the diverse Muslim cultures globally as it impacted our mission overseas. She is a Realtor in Massachusetts since 1988. Her passion is having a world that honors the diversity of who we are as human beings and fellow travelers.
- Dr. Kristen Leslie is a Professor of Pastoral Theology and Counseling at Eden Theological Seminary. She is national expert on military sexual abuse and trauma, and she and Marie Fortune of the Faith Trust Institute are working on a year-long contract with the Navy to train Navy, Marine, and Coast Guard Chaplains on pastoral care in matters related to sexual assault. Her teaching and research has been significantly influenced by the needs of military chaplains. In 2003, the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) found itself in the public gaze in the aftermath of a sexual assault scandal. A USAFA chaplain read her book on pastoral care with survivors of acquaintance rape and invited her into a consulting relationship with the chaplains. Over a two-year period, her work with the Air Force Academy grew to include general cadet-centered pastoral care and problems that arise when pastoral care shifts to proselytizing. In 2005, she testified in front of a subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee on the problem of pastoral care and proselytizing.
- Prof. Elizabeth Liebert, SNJM has belonged to the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary for more than fifth years. She has been an educator for all of her adult life, beginning with Seventh and Eighth grades, then undergraduate Religious Studies, and finally, for the last thirty six years, at the graduate level, preparing students for ministry. Disciplinarily, she is a pastoral theologian, but her teaching area for the two dozen plus years has been Christian Spirituality and spiritual formation. She just completed four years as Dean of the Seminary and Vice President for Academic Affairs at San Francisco Theological Seminary (Presbyterian), and is currently enjoying a sabbatical, with the goal of a book on discernment focused on systems rather than on personal discernment or discernment with small groups. The topic of Soul Repair has become increasingly important to her as she work on a curriculum intended to prepare caregivers who deal with trauma for their important healing ministry.
- Dr. Kenneth Pargament is professor of clinical psychology at Bowling Green State University. Dr. Pargament has been a leading figure in the effort to bring a more balanced view of religious life to the attention of social scientists and health professionals. He has published over 200 articles on religion and mental health. He is author of The Psychology of Religion and Coping: Theory, Research, Practice and Spiritually Integrated Psychotherapy: Understanding and Addressing the Sacred. He is editor-in-chief of the recently published two-volume APA Handbook of Psychology, Religion, and Spirituality. Dr. Pargament has consulted with several foundations, the National Institutes of Health, the United States Army, and the World Health Organization. His awards include the William James Award for excellence in research in the psychology of religion from Division 36 of APA, the Virginia Staudt Sexton Mentoring Award from APA for guiding and encouraging others in the field, and two exemplary paper awards from the John Templeton Foundation. He was awarded the 2009 Oskar Pfitzer Award from the American Psychiatric Association, the 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Ohio Psychological Association and the National Samaritan Award in 2012. He received an honorary doctorate of Human Letters from Pepperdine University in 2013.
- Dr. Nancy Ramsay lives in Fort Worth, TX where she serves as Professor of Pastoral Theology and Pastoral Care at Brite Divinity School. She holds clinical memberships in the American Association of Pastoral Counselors and the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists where she is also a supervisor. She is an ordained Presbyterian (PCUSA) clergywoman. She publishes in the area of pastoral theology and care with particular attention to developing resources for resisting oppression arising from forms of embodied difference treated oppressively such as racism, sexism, heterosexism and classism. Her teaching and writing also address a range of issues in congregational care including attention to trauma, shame, and ritual sources for healing.
- Rabbi Stephen Roberts works with a particular focus on pastoral/spiritual care, health issues, recovery/addictions and disaster response. He is the editor of Professional Spiritual and Pastoral Care: A Practical Clergy and Chaplain’s Handbook, the first comprehensive resource for teaching spiritual and pastoral care to seminarians of all faith traditions. Co-editor of Disaster Spiritual Care: Practical Clergy Responses to Community, Regional and National Tragedy, he is a Past President (2002-2004) of the National Association of Jewish Chaplains (NAJC). He holds the Masters in Business degree from The Wharton School; was ordained from Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion in New York in 1995; and studied Food and Resource Economics at The University of Florida’s College of Agriculture. After completed serving two terms on the National American Red Cross President’s National Diversity Advisory Committee, he currently serves on the American Red Cross National Spiritual Care Oversight Committee (since 2000). Responding to the 9/11 terror attacks, he oversaw the provision of Spiritual Care through national American Red Cross (ARC) in New York City; from 9/11 itself until the operation was completed in May 2002. Over 800 chaplains volunteered under his leadership and direction within ARC during this time.
- Dr. Phillis Isabella Sheppard is the Associate Professor of Pastoral Psychology and Theology at Boston University School of Theology, and Consulting Faculty at the Albert and Jessie Danielson Institute. She is a practical theologian, womanist scholar and psychoanalyst. Her research engages the intersection between psychology, culture and religion. Her publications are, then, aimed at the nexus where the social and the intrapsychic meet, and she particularly concerned with the links between embodied trauma and cultural experience in African American women’s lives. Her recently published Self, Culture and Others in Womanist Practical Theology (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011) created a dialogue between psychoanalytic theory and womanist practical theology. Her current book project, Tilling Sacred Ground: Womanist Explorations in Psychology of Religion examines public spaces of African American religious experience and the implications for a womanist psychology of religion.
The Center’s public education work addresses diverse populations and occurs in several ways. The Center organizes conferences in Fort Worth and across the United States to educate religious leaders and their communities, service providers to veterans, veteran leaders, military and veteran families, and the wider public. An important feature of all its events is education in “deep listening” in response to veterans speaking of their moral injury and struggles to return home.
In addition to conferences in Fort Worth, in March of 2014 the Center launched our program called “Soul Repair on the Road,” to meet the increasing demand for public education. These conferences are meant to introduce the concept of moral injury and equips congregations and service providers with means to support recovery. In addition, they are building regional programs that will hold local programs.
Beyond out training Conferences, we also provide resources for those interested in helping veterans, including an annotated reading list, a study guide for congregations that introduces them to the idea of moral injury through a reading of Soul Repair: Recovering from Moral Injury After War, and a booklet to guide the Moral Injury Meetings. Further development will continue, with training manuals and ritual resources.
The Center has created and taught a seminary course on moral injury. Dr. Baker and Dr. Brock co-taught the first class at Brite in January 2014. In July 2014, Dr. Brock will offer a course at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA. In addition to developing graduate level courses, the Center plans to design targeted trainings on moral injury to educators, college and university staff, employers, and medical caregivers.
The Center will expand its education about moral injury into American civil society and international communities that struggle in the aftermath of violence. It will continue to help congregations understand recovery from moral injury as a crucial aspect of ministry not just for veterans but for all whose work has life and death implications, such as law, veterinary medicine, emergency medical technicians, clergy, and counselors.
- Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America (BPFNA) BPFNA recruits supporters and planners of Soul Repair on the Road events and offers program time at their annual conference to staff members of the Center. A supporter of work on moral injury since 2010, the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America supports the peacemaking work done by Baptist churches in Canada, the United States, Puerto Rico and Mexico by raising the visibility of their efforts, bringing peacemakers together in regional and international gatherings, and providing resources, speakers and training to our members. BPFNA builds alliances and works toward a more just and peaceful world. More information is available at http://www.bpfna.orr.
- Boston University School of Theology, Boston University School of Theology is a seminary of The United Methodist Church and Dean of Community Life, Rev. Dr. Pamela Lightsey is on the Center National Advisory Board. The School is a robustly ecumenical institution and welcomes students from diverse faith traditions. A Soul Repair on the Road event will occur in 2014. More information is available at http://www.bu.edu/sthh.
- Calvin Institute for Christian Worship, Located at Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the Institute is an interdisciplinary study and ministry center that promotes the scholarly study of the theology, history, and practice of Christian worship and the renewal of worship in worshiping communities across North America and beyond. The Institute has begun work on worship resources on moral injury for churches, work initiated in February 2013 at the Center’s conference in Fort Worth. Chaplain Herman Keizer continues to work on liturgical material that can be used for Veterans as well as a service where there is mutual repentance and a move toward reconciliation between congregants who were not involved in these wars and the veterans and their families. More information is available at http://worship.calvin.edu.
- Carolina Soul Repair Coalition, The Carolina Soul Repair Coalition, a regional partner of the Center, is composed of community groups interested in helping veterans recover from moral injury after war. The Coalition educates and equips people to create a more hospitable environment for veterans by hosting events.
- Church of the Resurrection, Leawood, Kansas, The largest United Methodist congregation in the United States, Church of the Resurrection has a membership of over 20,000. It is ranked #9 in the “Top 10 U.S. Churches to learn from that are influencing other churches” and #16 in the “Top 26 U.S. Churches to learn from in all areas” by Churchrelevance.com. According to the church website, Church of the Resurrection was listed as the most influential mainline church in America in a 2005 survey of American pastors. Their veterans ministry ResVets is a regional partner with the Center. ResVet leaders have attended two conferences in Fort Worth, consulted with Dr. Brock about their ministries, and will host a national conference on moral injury in 2015 More information is available at http://www.cor.org.
- Disciples Peace Fellowship (DPF) A supporter of work on moral injury since 2010, Disciples Peace Fellowship is dedicated to the elimination of war and the Biblical principles of peace and justice and continues to lead the denomination in working on moral injury and promoting the work of the Center, hosting events and educating the denomination. DFP is one of the largest independent but integrally related organizations within the denomination and is also the oldest existing Peace Fellowship of any denomination in the United States. More information is available at http://www.dpfweb.org.
- First Christian Church, Montgomery Alabama, The First Christian Church Montgomery is a regional partner of the Center and the host of the Soul Repair Coalition in Alabama. Its mission is to demonstrate and proclaim God’s joyful, unconditional love in an inclusive environment of spiritual growth and nurture for God’s children. More information is available at http://www.fccmontgomery.org.
- Justice and Witness Ministries of the United Church of Christ (JWM) A donor to the work of moral injury since 2011, the Justice and Witness Ministries of the United Church of Christ (UCC) continues to offer educational opportunities and events that support the Center’s work. This agency of the UCC helps local congregations and all settings of the church respond to God’s commandments to do justice, seek peace and effect change for a better world. The work of JWM is guided by the pronouncements and resolutions approved by the UCC at General Synod. The JWM’s mission is to speak and act prophetically through community mobilization, leadership training, issues education, public witness, and public policy advocacy. They lead the UCC to have a transforming impact on local, national, and global communities. More information is available at http://www.ucc.org/jwm.
- Mental Health Channel, The Mental Health Channel builds awareness and understanding of mental health issues through original documentary film series content. More information is available at http://www.mentalhealthchannel.tv.
- North Carolina Region of the Christian Church Disciples of Christ, The Region is a member of the Carolina Soul Repair Coalition, and Regional Minister Rev. John Richardson chaired the committee that created a conference on moral injury in March 2014. More information is available at www.ncdisciples.org.
- Pacific Southwest Region of the Christian Church Disciples of Christ, The Region has supported and promoted a Soul Repair on the Road event planned for July 2014 in San Diego and invited Dr. Brock to present a workshop at the Regional Assembly in October 2013. More information is available at www.disciplespswr.org.
- Spiritual Care Network of Tarrant County, The Spiritual Care Network provides spiritual support and care for the leadership of Tarrant County, Texas. They provide spiritual direction and care, and opportunities for service to the community and the facilitation of faith-based collaborative efforts for Tarrant County institutions. They also provide spiritual support for veterans such as, chaplaincy care for veterans in homeless facilities, pastoral care and counseling for veterans on an outpatient basis, group Bible studies and share times for veterans in need of spiritual dialogue and direction, connecting veterans to other services available in the DFW area. The SCN is partnering with the Center in raising funds for the two-week retreat for veterans. More information is available at http://www.tarrantscn.org.
- Syracuse University Campus Ministry, With its extensive support programs for veterans, making it the fourth best university in the U.S. for veterans, according to U.S. News, Syracuse University is an ideal site for the Center’s commitment to educating the entire campus, which its services currently do not do. The Campus Ministry of the University will work with the Center to support veterans with moral injury and to engage the wider campus in understanding what it means to be a veteran welcoming campus. More information is available at http://veterans.syc.edu.
- Texas Christian University (TCU), There are three strategic partnerships on the TCU Campus:
- The Dean of the Harris College of Nursing and Health Sciences, who also serves on the Soul Repair National Advisory Board, is interested in bringing research and education about moral injury into the medical community. More information is available at http://www.harriscollege.tcu.edu.
- Psychology Professor Tim Barth is serving as an advisor to Human Resources as it seeks to meet federal requirements as an employer of veterans. He and the Center are partnering in educating the wider campus to create a veteran welcoming institution for employees and students. In addition, he is working with the Center on fundraising and evidence based study for the two week retreats for veterans. http://www.psy.tcu.edu/barth.htm.
- Veteran Services under the leadership of veteran April Brown works with the Center when the program plans events for veterans on the TCU campus. More information is available at http://www.veteransservices.tcu.edu.
- University of North Texas Health Science Center (UNTHSC), The UNTHSC is working with the Center in the planning of the two-week retreat for veterans. They bring extensive experience providing medical support to veterans. Their mission is to create solutions for a healthier community. More information is available http://web.unthsc.edu/about_us.
- Veterans Affairs, National Chaplain Center, The Mission of the National Chaplain Center is to empower Department of Veterans Affairs Chaplains in the achievement of excellence in meeting the Spiritual Healthcare needs of Veterans. A number of regional chiefs of VA chaplains have become involved in planning Soul Repair on the Road events. More information is available at http://www.va.gov/Chaplain.
- Veterans Coalition of Tarrant County (VETCO), The Mission of VETCO is to improve the quality of life for service members, veterans, and their families by coordinating access to services of member organizations for veterans. VETCO’s goal is to facilitate access to education, employment and life needs by identifying existing services and gaps in service, improving communication and collaboration among member organizations, facilitating new programs among member organizations to address gaps in service, and serving as an advocate on issues that impact member organizations. Members of the Veterans Coalition of Tarrant County are community leaders, volunteers, service organizations, business owners and local corporations interested in working together with veterans to facilitate access to education, employment and life needs. Dr. Brock serves on the board of VETCO and is leading a process of creating a two-week retreat for veterans with other organizations in VETCO. More information is available at http://veteranscoalition.org.