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What Have We Done? The Moral Injury of Our Longest Wars


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“War is a morally treacherous enterprise.” So says war correspondent and author, David Wood. Through years of experience embedded with U.S. military units in Somalia, Southwest Asia and the Persian Gulf, Panama, Haiti, and the Balkans, Wood found the nature of war often overcomes a Soldier’s reliance on their leaders, training, equipment, and their own internal sense of “what’s right.” This can lead to a sometimes devastating result: Moral Injury. On Wednesday, April 18, 2018, at 7:15pm, David Wood will present a lecture at the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center in Carlisle, Pennsylvania based on his new book, What Have We Done? The Moral Injury of Our Longest Wars. He will explore the sometimes impossible choices our Soldiers are presented with, the moral injury that often results, and the impact such injury has on our military and our society in America.

A Soldier on patrol is felled by a sniper, and his buddy is stricken with grief and shame that he failed to spot the sniper in time. A medic cannot save a mortally wounded Soldier and carries that guilt for years. A commander must choose between levelling an enemy village with indirect fire, which will kill many civilians – or attacking with his company and losing many of his own men. That decision will haunt him forever. These are common causes of moral injury, a wound of the soul. Moral injuries, like physical injuries, range from minor and temporary to disabling. Based on his long experience as an embedded journalist and a war correspondent, David Wood has found that almost everyone returns from a war zone with some aspect of moral injury. This lecture will tell the story of the Soldiers and Marines he knew in Iraq and Afghanistan, the impact the war had on their moral psyche, and the recent advances in therapy that can help.

David Wood is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and has more than 35 years as a war correspondent. Wood's series on severely wounded veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting. He has reported for Time magazine, the Los Angeles Times, Newhouse News Service, the Baltimore Sun, and AOL's Politics Daily and has been honored with the prestigious Prix de Bayeux-Calvados, the Dart Award for Excellence in Coverage of Trauma, the Joe Galloway Award by the Military Reporters and Editors Association, and the Gerald R. Ford Prize for Distinguished Defense Reporting.