Identifying and Addressing Complex War-Related Moral Injury

War-related moral injury comes in two forms; simple and complex. Simple moral injury is transgression unencumbered and unhindered by mental health problems. While a service member may need pastoral care in dealing with simple moral injury – treatment may not be easy, but with some prepping and coaching it is pretty straightforward. On the other hand, complex moral injury, which is more common among returning service members, refers to moral injury that is encumbered with other co-occurring problems. Assessment, treatment and aftercare is more complicated.

Story: The chaplain had just completed the funeral of a service member who committed suicide. As he walked to his car a man approached him and introduced himself as a pastor. He told the chaplain to rest assured that he didn’t need to worry about the service member’s salvation. He went on to say that he personally had led the service member to Christ a couple of months earlier. The soldier had received Christ as his personal Savior, had prayed the ‘sinner’s prayer’, had studied the Bible with him and was praying and reading his Bible before his tragic death. The chaplain listened and thanked him for sharing, but he was also deeply disturbed. He understood that the pastor was doing the only thing he knew. But, he thought, how tragic that the pastor did not know how to identify and address the underlying problems fueling the soldier’s anguished spiritual quest for peace of mind. While the chaplain didn’t share the decision theology perspective of that pastor, he sadly reflected that, with some basic knowledge and skills the pastor might have saved the soldier’s life, spared loved ones from traumatic grief as well as sharing his faith.

Welcome Them Home – Help Them Heal is a basic primer to help chaplains, pastors and caregivers understand and treat complex moral injury.

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Ben Franklin Award Winner!

Welcome Them Home Help Them Heal Wins

Prestigious Ben Franklin Award

Welcome Them Home Help Them Heal: Pastoral Care and Ministry with Service Members Returning from War by John Sippola, Chaplain, LTC, ret., MDiv, Amy Blumenshine, MSW, MA, Donald A Tubesing, PhD, MDiv, and Valerie Yancey, PhD, RN has been named a winner in the 22nd annual Benjamin Franklin Awards ™ from IBPA, the Independent Book Publishe

rs Association in recognition of excellence in independent publishing.

IBPA, the Independent Book Publishers Association, recently honored the best books in 50 cate

gories at the Benjamin Franklin Awards™ in New York City on May 24, 2010, prior to the BookExpo America tradeshow. Welcome Them Home Help Them Heal won first place in the Religion category. Judged by a panel of book industry experts including buyers at wholesale and retail levels, librarians, book critics, design experts, and independent publishing consultants, these books have been scrutinized by individuals involved in the very markets in which the books are competing.

Welcome Them Home was written to equip the growing number of pastors, parish nurses, counselors, and caregivers in churches across the country to support and advocate for veterans and their loved ones. It expands the reader’s knowledge of how to provide physical, mental, and spiritual care for veterans and sparks a spirit of willingness and hope. A practical guide for ministering to veterans offering an understanding of the nature of the Iraq/Afghanistan wars, the challenges soldiers face when returning home, and the physical, psychological, and spiritual wounds of war. It defines the role of the church, discussing the basic principles for outreach, guidelines for creating a welcoming and safe environment, and presenting ideas for activating the healing rituals of the church year. It provides a wealth of resources: agencies that serve veterans, tips for making effective referrals, quick screening tools for PTSD, depression, and traumatic brain injury, and a comprehensive Wounds of War assessment. The Ben Franklin Award recognized that Welcome Them Home Help Them Heal was the most successful book in achieving its purpose and meeting its audience’s needs.

Named in honor of America’s cherished publisher and printer, the Benjamin Franklin Award recognizes excellence in independent publishing. Books are grouped by genre and are judged on editorial and design merit by top practitioners in each field. A panel of 150 judges from throughout the publishing industry weighed and evaluated close to 1,300 submissions in 50 categories to create the list of more than 150 finalists for the 2009 publishing year. Publishers large and small competed for the coveted Benjamin Franklin Awards.

IBPA, with more than 3,200 members, is the largest trade association representing independent publishers. Founded in 1983, its mission is to advance the professional interests of independent publishers

For more information, contact Carlene Sippola (800-247-6789) at Whole Person Associates. For a complete listing of finalists and to view the award winners in each of the 50 categories, check out the IBPA website at

Welcome Them Home Help Them Heal:

Pastoral Care and Ministry with Service Members Returning from War

Written by: John Sippola, Chaplain, LTC, ret., MDiv; Amy Blumenshine, MSW, MA; Donald A Tubesing, PhD, MDiv; Valerie Yancey, PhD, RN
No. of pages: 112
Softcover:  Price $12.00
ISBN: 978-1-57025-246-4
Publication date: 2009

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Review by Bishop Craig Johnson, Minneapolis Area Synod ELCA

“Our congregations have not always done their most exemplary work in welcoming members back from wars.  I believe the reason for most of that neglect I that pastors and congregations are not sure what to do for returning veterans.  This volume is a wonderful primer for understanding the needs of returning veterans to their communities and communities of faith.  Committees and Pastors would do well to utilize this book as they look to welcoming the baptized home from wars.”   Bishop Craig E. Johnson

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