What is Moral Injury?

Moral injury (MI) is a concept that originated in the field of psychology and is often associated with the experiences of individuals, particularly those in high-stakes or traumatic situations, where their actions or the actions of others conflict with their deeply held moral or ethical beliefs. It is not a new concept, but its exploration and understanding have gained more attention in recent years, particularly in the context of military and healthcare settings.

Moral injury is different from traditional psychological trauma, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which typically focuses on the impact of witnessing or experiencing life-threatening events. Moral injury, on the other hand, is concerned with the psychological, emotional, and spiritual distress that arises from participating in or witnessing events that violate one’s moral or ethical code.

Key elements of moral injury may include:

1. Moral or Ethical Violation: Involvement in actions or witnessing events that go against one’s deeply held moral or ethical values. This could include actions that cause harm to others or oneself.

2. Betrayal of Trust: Perceiving a betrayal of trust, either by oneself or by others, especially those in positions of authority or leadership.

3. Guilt and Shame: Intense feelings of guilt, shame, or remorse related to the moral transgressions or perceived failures.

4. Existential Struggle: Questions about the meaning and purpose of one’s actions or life, and a sense of profound inner conflict.

Moral injury is often discussed in the context of professions that involve difficult ethical decisions, such as military service, healthcare, law enforcement, and other high-stakes occupations. It can also be relevant in non-professional contexts where individuals are exposed to morally challenging situations.

It’s important to note that the concept of moral injury is still evolving, and there may be different interpretations and perspectives within the psychological and research communities. Addressing moral injury may involve therapeutic interventions, support networks, and efforts to promote ethical decision-making and moral resilience.

What is Moral Injury?

What is Moral Injury?

Moral Injury(MI) is the inner conflict or loss a person feels when they are a witness to, a participant in, or the target of any event that violates their moral values. Events can include:

  • Killing in combat
  • Sexual assault
  • Hazing and Harassment
  • Witnessing abuse and not being able to stop it, etc.
Research shows inadequate support for female service members; Dr. Roberts found only 3 out of 10 wounded women received effective chaplain support.
Blog | What is Moral Injury? | Moral Injury Support Network for ServiceWomen, Inc.

How We Can Help

A follow-up study with 15 male chaplains from Christian and non-Christian denominations showed that many of them lacked counseling training and knowledge about problems women in the military face.

Through extensive research and practice, we have developed theories, models, and practices for providing pastoral care to women service members. We will provide seminars and workshops to help chaplains and organizations grow in their ability to provide care to those who guard our country. Also we can help schools and professors develop curriculum and case studies.

MISNS will work with organizations to develop and execute research projects that will add to the base of knowledge related to military chaplaincy, pastoral support, moral injury, and similar topics of interest. Our research team has extensive experience in a variety of subjects and methodologies Some of these include both quantitative and qualitative metrics and the Delphi case study. Prices are dependent upon the type of project but are competitive and often offered at a discount.

Our Goal

MISNS’ research focus is on military moral injury and pastoral support to female service members. Women are an underserved population when it comes to spiritual leadership and support. By conducting studies with women veterans as the primary population, our organization is able to develop theories and practices that will enhance the lives of women in the military.

As an educational and training organization, Moral Injury Support Network for Servicewomen, Inc. helps men and women in the chaplaincy hone their skills as religious professionals and care providers. Since collaborative and wholistic approaches are needed to help veterans experience post-traumatic growth, MISNS also provides continuing education to social workers, psychologists, nurses and medical professionals of governmental and community health organizations. Our training inventory includes conferences, case studies, keynote speeches, class curriculum, and other products.

Moral Injury Support Network for Servicewomen, Inc. helps pastors and chaplains understand how to better provide care to women who have experienced harassment, assault, and suppression. Our organization is an advocate for equality in religious leadership and support. Approximately half of the denominations in the U.S. ordain women, but only about 10% of churches are led by a woman. Also, many ministers take a male-centered approach to spiritual care, which does not always work for women who generally have a very different experience with the world than men. We found that Women view God differently than men which indicates that their life experiences require a nuanced approach to pastoral care and support.


“Exploring Military Moral Injury Among Service Members’ Partners” is one of our most important studies. The goal of the project is to explore the phenomenon of secondary moral injury. This includes injury among partners of military service members with a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Furthermore, this study will lay the groundwork for future projects aimed at addressing moral injury within military families.


We are looking for research partners, organizations that provide support to military personnel, veterans, and their families! We believe these organizations, who have invested time, money and energy into the veteran community, are in the best position to help us design, recruit, and conduct the research study. If you belong to one of those organizations, visit our partner page for more information: Contact Page.

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