In the hopes of broadening our understanding of traumatic events, Litz et al. (2009) introduced moral injury (MI), defined as "perpetrating, failing to prevent, or bearing witness to acts that transgress deeply held moral beliefs and expectations" (p. 6). Although Drescher et al. (2011) interviewed trauma experts to identify types of events which could create MI, it is unknown how prevalent these themes are within a military context. Therefore, this qualitative study identifies the themes of traumatic events reported by a 100 randomly selected members of the Combat Subsample within the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study (NVVRS), and compares these themes to those developed in the Drescher et al. (2011) study. Themes of traumatic events included Accidents, Combat, Natural Disaster, Family Accident or Death, Fight or Assault, Non-combat Injuries or Death, and Psychosocial High Magnitude Stressors. Although MI was not identified by coders as a major theme, 15 potential MI events were identified by principle investigators within the data. These findings support the concept of MI as related to combat veterans.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (PsyD) -- Psychology; Vietnam War, 1961-1975 -- Veterans -- Mental health; Military ethics; War -- Moral and ethical aspects; War -- Psychological aspects

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Foy, David;