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How religion can help morally injured veterans

To the editor: In the late 1960s I was rabbi of a congregation in Seattle and an Air Force Reserve chaplain pulling duty at McChord Air Force Base, a major entry point for military personnel returning from Vietnam. ("The deepest war wound may be the anguish of moral injury," op-ed, April 24)

At the time, I read an article in the publication Psychology Today criticizing the standard of mental health care for returning veterans. It focused on "don't feel guilty for things beyond your control" and didn't address what Op-Ed article author Nancy Sherman rightly defined as shame and "all too often suicidal shame."

We religious folks have a name for this condition: a sense of sin. Religions have great experience in helping people deal with it. We have to offer such people a credible means of atonement, a way of somehow compensating for the damage done by identifying redemptive actions on their part. We call that repentance.

If you call a thing by its proper name, it becomes easier to deal with.

Rabbi Gilbert Kollin, Pasadena

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