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How is Moral Injury Treated? with Dr. Carter Check

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By Sofia Health Staff on February, 14 2024
How is Moral Injury Treated? with Dr. Carter Check

In this episode of Sofia Unfiltered, Riley and Dr. Michelle speak with Dr. Carter Check, Doctor of Integrated Chaplaincy, Board-Certified Behavioral Health Chaplain, Clinical Staff Chaplain at the Eastern Oklahoma VA Medical Center, and Leader of the REAL Moral Injury Clinics

A Soldier's Path Through Moral Injury 

Recounting a pivotal moment during his service in South Korea, Dr. Check vividly describes a harrowing encounter where he and his comrade were forced into a violent altercation with locals. Despite acting in self-defense, they faced potential prosecution and a life-altering sentence in a foreign country's legal system.

Dr. Check's experience highlights the complexities of moral injury, revealing the profound impact of such events on military personnel. His story sheds light on the challenges faced by veterans, both in navigating the aftermath of traumatic incidents and in seeking understanding and support upon returning home. Despite the adversity he faced, Dr. Check's resilience and dedication to serving others shine through as he continues his mission to support veterans' mental health and well-being.


What is Moral Injury?

Moral injury occurs when individuals experience events that contradict their deeply held moral beliefs and values, whether through actions (acts of commission) or inaction (acts of omission). This can lead to feelings of guilt, shame, disgust, and anger, as well as an inability to self-forgive. These reactions often extend to spiritual beliefs, causing individuals to question their relationship with a Higher Power and their understanding of the world. Moral injury encompasses a range of psychological, behavioral, social, and sometimes spiritual consequences, resulting from exposure to such morally conflicting events. 


Into the Wild: How Hun(t)herapy Offers Hope and Healing

Dr. Carter Check reflects on his journey from his time as an Army Cavalry Scout to his current role as a Behavioral Health Chaplain. He delves into his struggles with PTSD and moral injury, stemming from experiences of feeling betrayed and unprotected, both in the military and throughout his life. Dr. Check emphasizes the importance of facing trauma head-on rather than attempting to suppress it, highlighting the transformative power of seeking therapy and finding purpose in life.

He introduces the concept of "hunt therapy," which he developed as a means of utilizing outdoor recreation to address trauma and prevent suicide, emphasizing the significance of reconnecting with nature as a healing practice. Through poignant examples, Dr. Check illustrates the profound impact of moral injury on individuals' sense of purpose, values, and intimacy, advocating for a holistic approach to healing that encompasses both psychological and spiritual care.

Sofia Health connects you to traditional, integrative, nutritional, holistic, and spiritual healing professionals to help you personalize your healing journey.

Loneliness's Influence on Suicidal Thoughts

Through Dr. Check's extensive research on the connection between loneliness and suicidality, he emphasizes how loneliness can act as a silent catalyst for despair, often morphing into shame and perpetuating negative thought patterns. Dr. Check advocates for a shift from rumination to determination, highlighting the transformative power of mindfulness, community, and purpose in overcoming trauma. He shares insights from his work with veterans and emphasizes the importance of empathy and connection in fostering healing and combatting isolation.


The Importance of Self-Care in Combating Loneliness

Dr. Check emphasizes the importance of understanding what brings individuals strength and resilience, highlighting the need for meaningful connections and support systems outside of clinical environments. Through motivational interviewing techniques, Check aims to uncover what keeps individuals going and helps them navigate through trauma-induced meaning fractures.

Additionally, the dialogue sheds light on the alarming rates of suicide, exacerbated by the normalization of loneliness during the COVID-19 pandemic, underscoring the critical need for both prevention and postvention support measures in addressing mental health crises within vulnerable populations.


Perspectives on Moral Injury and Suicide

Dr. Check's compassionate approach encourages listeners to confront discomfort, challenge assumptions, and recognize that their suffering stems from a place of moral integrity rather than personal failure. He concludes with a reminder of the available resources for those struggling with suicidal thoughts, emphasizing the inherent goodness within individuals grappling with moral injury.


More from Sofia Health

Check out the full episode of the Sofia Unfiltered podcast, "Exploring Moral Injury", available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

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Disclaimer: The Sofia Unfiltered Podcast by Sofia Health is for general informational and entertainment purposes only and does not constitute the practice of medicine, nursing, or other professional healthcare services, including the giving of medical advice. No doctor/patient relationship is formed. The use of information on this podcast or materials linked from this podcast is at the user’s own risk. The content of this podcast is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Users should not disregard or delay in obtaining medical advice for any medical condition they may have. For any health concerns, users should seek the assistance of their healthcare professionals.

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