I recently read a New York Times article about an episode of the hit TV show, “This Is Us” and the Vietnam war story line; co-written by Tim O’Brien, author of “Things They Carried”. Not that the article is so eye opening, but the embedded You Tube movie scene is what brought emotion and tears.
It is clear the young soldier in the boat was not smart, but it is plain that his time with the little Vietnamese boy and their fishing adventure was special…in a land full of destruction and loss. It is also very clear the Moral Injury sustained and the deep psychological wound for not only the soldier, but for those connected to him in that moment; his brothers, the Vietnamese parents, the village, and centrally, the unintended perpetrator. The guilt and shame felt by all would become a ripple of pain, like the grenade exploding in the lake; tearing through the veterans and their families as they returned home. This is us…and the wounds which must be dealt with and healed. The lives touched by war are never the same. Wives and husbands cry out in their own sadness and frustration, “I want my husband/wife back damn it!”. This is a normal grief response to the significant changes in personality, worldview, and ability to be present and love again. What must be understood is that Moral Injury is not just isolated to the veteran, but to all who know him or her. What also must be learned is that war changes us from the inside out. Once exposed, the experience changes the individual for the remainder of their lives in some way.