Volunteers of America Northern New England Joins VOA National in Effort to Address Moral Injury

VOANNE will host two-day seminar on moral injury in Augusta, September 19 & 20   

 Volunteers of America Northern New England is part of a national effort by Volunteers of America to raise awareness of and treat moral injury. Volunteers of America national is launching an ad campaign on moral injury in New York’s Times Square to coincide with World Suicide Prevention Day, tomorrow September 10th. Launch of the campaign, titled “The War Inside” will include video on the NASDAQ and Reuters digital boards for the first 10 minutes of every hour on Sept. 10.

Locally, Volunteers of America Northern New England, which is based in Brunswick, will hold a two-day seminar on treating moral injury. The seminar, titled Moral Injury, Pathways to Recovery, will be held at

The Senator Inn

284 Western Avenue, Augusta, ME

September 19, 2019

10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

September 20, 2019

9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

It will be led by Dr. Rita Brock, a foremost authority and researcher on treating moral injury, and will feature sessions with Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker, Rev. Dr. Linda Mercadante, and Mr. Jesse Estrin, all of whom have extensive experience working in the moral injury realm.

“There is an urgency to raising awareness on moral injury,” said Richard Wayman Hooks the CEO of Volunteers of America Northern New England. “From military veterans to those struggling with substance use disorder to victims of domestic abuse, we recognize that there are significant numbers of people suffering and Volunteers of America is here to help. Our seminar is aimed at those who are trying to help and treat people dealing with moral injury. Mental health workers, law enforcement, social workers, clergy, and veterans’ service workers—all will gather vital information that will greatly aid their efforts.”

Volunteers of America has characterized moral injury as “a war inside.” The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs defines moral injury as “a psychological harm resulting from either (1) acting, failing to prevent, or witnessing actions that violate an individual’s deepest values and principles, or from (2) betrayal by a trusted authority figure in a high-stakes situation.” While moral injury first emerged in research on military veterans, anyone who works in high-stakes situations or who has endured trauma can experience it.

The effects of moral injury are pervasive throughout society and contribute to homelessness, self-harm including suicide, rage, addiction, compulsive overwork and/or depression. Unlike some causes of distress, moral injury is not a mental illness. It is an existential crisis in identity and meaning because of devastating life circumstances and it can happen at any age. Fortunately, recovery is possible. Volunteers of America has stepped up to assist in the recovery for thousands suffering across the U.S.

“The first step in recovery of moral injury is recognition and understanding it,” said Rita Brock, Ph.D., founding director of the Shay Moral Injury Center at Volunteers of America. The center is named for Jonathan Shay, a medical doctor and clinical psychiatrist best known for his work with post-traumatic stress disorder who first introduced the concept of moral injury. Brock leads Volunteers of America’s efforts to identify and treat moral injury as part of its service programs and is eager to lead the seminar in Augusta. “Some think that moral injury is the same as PTSD,” said Brock. “While they can share some symptoms, they’re very different conditions and treating moral injury the same as PTSD can actually worsen the condition.”

A noted theologian, Brock was the founding director of the Soul Repair Center at Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University, where she was also a research professor of theology and culture. She is an author of multiple books on moral injury and is a leading national expert on moral injury in combat veterans.

For more information on Volunteers of America Northern New England’s seminar, go to https://www.voanne.org/ or to see the national campaign, go to www.voa.org.

About Volunteers of America Northern New England

At Volunteers of America Northern New England, we serve the people of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont with the promise to reach out and uplift the human condition and provide opportunity for individual and community involvement.

About Volunteers of America

Volunteers of America is a national, nonprofit, faith-based organization dedicated to helping those in need live healthy, safe and productive lives. Since 1896, our ministry of service has provided compassionate care to a variety of groups, including veterans, seniors, people with disabilities, at-risk youth, men and women returning from prison, homeless individuals and families, those recovering from addictions and many others. Through hundreds of human service programs, including housing and health care, Volunteers of America helps almost 1.5 million people in over 400 communities. Our work touches the mind, body, heart and ultimately the spirit of those we serve, integrating our deep compassion with highly effective programs and services. For more information about Volunteers of America, visit www.VolunteersofAmerica.org.