As with all psychological constructs in their infancy, it is important to operationalize a definition as part of the construct validation process. As a phenomenon that continues to gain recognition amongst the psychological community, Moral Injury (MI) is no different. Although Litz et al. (2009) introduced and defined MI as the "psychological, biological, spiritual, behavioral, and social impact of perpetrating, failing to prevent, or bearing witness to acts that transgress deeply held more beliefs and expectations," Drescher et al. (2011) found that a similar working definition was "inadequate" and lacked clarity according to trauma experts' opinion. The following exploratory, qualitative study attempts to validate and enhance the current definitional understanding of MI by identifying associated thematic signs and symptoms as reported by 100 randomly selected veterans from the Combat Subsample of the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study (NVVRS). Major themes generated by blind coders were compared with thematic signs and symptoms of MI as developed by Drescher et al. (2011). Although MI was not identified as a theme by coders, signs and symptoms of MI were identified throughout the data.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

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

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Foy, David;