The Moral Anguish of Soldiers

When combat veterans tell their battle tales, the stories often are laced with themes of heroism, sacrifice and loyalty. But guilt also takes a heavy mental toll.

When veterans tell their battle tales, they often are laced with themes of heroism, sacrifice and loyalty. But Nancy Sherman often hears something else: Guilt. No matter what sparks it, guilt deserves more attention, the philosophy professor says. She examines the emotional and moral wounds of war – a key to understanding and healing troops suffering from mental trauma. "What is often missed by psychologists is that psychological anguish is sometimes moral anguish." With that comes guilt, although it's an emotion veterans rarely name. "Guilt was often the elephant in the room. It wasn't labeled as such. But it was felt."

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