Providing Chaplain Support to Morally Injured Servicewomen
Keywords:Moral injury, chaplain, support, servicewomen, pastoral care
The following article may serve as a learning tool for chaplains who are available to provide care to servicewomen suffering from moral injury. Moral injury occurs when someone experiences, takes part in, or witnesses a traumatic event that violates their deeply held beliefs about truth, justice, or morality. Using a gendered approach rooted in feminist principles and research, the text provides a list of traits and attitudes that effective chaplains possess, five principles of support, and recommendations for how chaplains can enact those concepts in specific counseling situations. The five principles of support are: establish trust, enable storytelling, be empathetic and calm, listen for special themes, and offer alternative perspectives. Together, the principles help create an environment in which a military woman can receive vitalizing pastoral care. The article describes in detail the five special themes of disempowerment, sink holes, guilt and shame, loss of identity, and low self-worth and explains how chaplains can offer alternative perspectives so that a woman client might experience post-traumatic growth and recovery.