Soul Pain

By January 9, 2018 No Comments
Palliative Care

Summit for Soldiers (SOS) is a program put on by NOLS (National Outdoors Leadership School) in Landers, Wyoming.  This is one of the many programs that have been developed to support the re-integration of military Veterans into civilian life.  Mike Filman, a NOLS graduate and US Marine (retired) founded SOS to provide community for Veterans in part in response to the alarming rate of emotional and spiritual distress evidenced by depression, substance use disorder and tragically over 8000 suicides a year.  This program is meant to provide opportunity for the healing benefits of wild places in the outdoors and community to augment more traditional therapies. Although not explicitly stated I believe that SOS is trying to address Moral Injury.

Moral Injury is an important concept and is gaining attention.  In the healthcare setting we have recognized moral distress, particularly in ICU settings, in nursing staff and others in which “one knows what the right action to take, but is constrained from taking it.”  Ultimately distress can lead to injury.

“Moral injury is the damage done to one’s conscience or moral compass when that person perpetrates, witnesses, or fails to prevent acts that transgress their own moral and ethical values or codes of conduct.”

The Moral Injury Project http://moralinjuryproject.syr.edu/about-moral-injury/

Moral Injury is most commonly discussed in the content of war and conflict.  However, we are all potentially at risk for moral injury when ways to speak up, advocate for patients and protect vulnerable individuals in our care are constrained by policy and administrations.

I encourage you to learn more about Moral Injury and work to prevent and alleviate the emotional and spiritual pain that result from moral distress.

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