Moral Injury and Stress Response Patterns in United States Military Veterans
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AbstractDuring combat, veterans encounter situations that violate their moral principles resulting in moral injury. For example, if a soldier fails to prevent, witnesses, and/or performs acts that oppose their values, their moral integrity may be harmed. The present study’s aim was to examine such injuries and their association with stress response patterns in veterans. Participants completed questionnaires as part of a larger study examining PTSD in war veterans. The MIQ was used to assess participants’ degree of cognitive dissonance with their actions during war, the IES- R was used to assess responses to traumatic events, and the SRQ was used to measure conscientiousness and ability to accomplish goals. A multiple regression analysis indicated that higher moral injury scores were associated with higher self-reported hyper-aroused responses to traumatic events. Additional moderation analyses indicated that higher self-regulatory skills may be a risk factor for veterans experiencing hyperarousal in response to moral injuries.