Document Type

Capstone Project (Open Access)

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


Humanities & Communication


Human Communication

First Advisor

Sam Robinson

Second Advisor

Patrick Belanger


Throughout conflicts in history, the psycho-spiritual construct known today as “moral injury” can be found. This term was coined in 1994 out of conceptions of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to describe intense shame and guilt aspects resulting from military service. The challenge comes with extrapolating this injury in the wake of nuances in terminology about related symptoms in conjunction with an evolving consciousness in identifying invisible military-related injuries. With current research and a historic pattern of unnamed moral injuries, this study explores the following: How did military chaplains address moral injuries without this construct? What are Unitarian Universalist (UU) military chaplains of today able to do for those with moral injuries using this framework? What implications might moral injury have in future conflicts, and, for our purposes, in the year 2050? In answering these questions, this study reviews case studies of extended moral injuries from the US Civil War and World War II. Drawing on interviews with current and former UU military chaplains, these interviews provide insights with how military chaplains address moral injuries through ministry today. Ultimately, these findings show that moral injury was traceable in history but was left unattended to without the modern concept of moral injury. With the construct today, military chaplains are more capable of addressing such injuries resulting from military service. As moral injuries have been observed in history, perhaps without the name, I argue that military service members will continue to face moral injuries in the future, especially in the wake of newer technological advances, like drone warfare, in future conflicts.