Post Traumatic Stress is in the Body
Moral Injury is Felt After You’ve Had Time to Think
Returning Veterans and Returning Citizens from Prison Face Some Similar Challenges
In 1970 I had accompanied South Vietnamese sailors to a village in enemy territory where we distributed medicines to “win hearts and minds.” On the way back to our base we were ambushed. We couldn’t see who was shooting at us, but every man in our boat sprayed the dense rushes on the canal bank immediately, without thinking. Our rapid violent response suppressed enemy fire and got us out of that tight spot. Our military training had desensitized us to killing and had ingrained in our very bodies an automatic response. In an ambush there is no time to think. One shoots to survive, and if one does survive, then one has the time afterwards to sort out what one did. When there was no target, as in this case, one may wonder whether anyone got hit, and if so, was it a shooter or an innocent bystander?