Former Army Reserve Capt. Josh Grenard thought the anguish of losing men in combat would eventually wane in the years after a deployment to Iraq. But when soldiers from his unit began committing suicide, the wounds reopened — fresh, raw and painful.
“It’s almost two sets of injuries — but having your men kill themselves is wholly different,” Grenard said. “Was there something I could have done? Was there a way we could have gotten them help? Should I have seen it?”
He found himself slipping into isolation, going to his law office each day but questioning his very existence. He drank from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily — “very metered, all day.”
“You don’t want to think about anything. You don’t want to answer those questions,” he said.
Grenard was not suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, the psychiatric condition normally associated with combat.
Rather, his feelings, which included crippling helplessness, emotional pain, guilt and frustration, are often described as “moral injury,” a psychological condition related to having done something wrong, being wronged by others or even witnessing a wrongdoing, argues Georgetown University philosophy professor Nancy Sherman. [Full Text]