Ian Langford - Guarding against moral injury

Running time
2 min 15 sec
Date made
Department of Veterans' Affairs


We need to give our leaders and our people the skill sets to understand the context in which they're operating, the environment in which they have to be able to, you know, understand, whether that be conducting a stability operation or whether it's a, you know, humanitarian assistance where you can't help everybody and so there are limits to what you can do.

So giving people the context and clarity around their mission, being able to wrap around the kind of coping and skills that are required to give context to their purpose and then being able to provide the kind of moral support in the context of the moral injury that you're describing when it comes to reassuring them that they have the right skills, the right equipment, they are acting for a higher purpose in the context of service in uniform, that they represent the institution of the army and our nation more broadly.

And they should go forward with the confidence that we trust them, that they are doing the right thing in the context of a problem which can be challenging and extreme in which you can control the situation, in which we can forgive them for making mistakes. But being part of a profession obligates us to subscribe to values, to have professional training systems, to have a discipline system where people are accountable and responsible. And so, in that context, they've also got to be as well prepared to do their job as they can.

And I think with that admixture of profession with, you know, knowledge as to how to care for our people, and this is in the context of a preventative function as opposed to a post incident sort of health intervention, that's what helps enable organisations and the people within them to cope with these sorts of challenges.

It's really difficult. And again, you know, moral injury is something that's quite personal, it takes, it manifests in all different forms over different sort of time epochs. So I think the focus we have on leadership, on education, on the coping skills, and the context in which our people operate is really important from a preventative health point of view.

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