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Nick Rudolph, left, and Stephen Canty

‘I’m A Good Person And Yet I’ve Done Bad Things’

A Warrior’s Moral Dilemma


I have covered conflict and the military for 35 years, drawn to the adventure and adrenaline rush, and fascinated by the drama of Americans at war. I feel privileged to have been accepted by soldiers and Marines in their squads, platoons and battalions. Living with the grunts, I have come to respect their grit, their sense of honor and commitment, their bearing, their courage. I’ve been enriched by their unfailing humor and spontaneous generosity. Amid the horror and squalid waste of war, I have seen young Americans at their best. In a very personal way, I honor their service.

It took me a long time to recognize that something was wrong. I know too many accomplished warriors who return home proud but uneasy about their experiences. Some have sought therapy, but most have not. Some were diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Most were not.

But they are not okay.

This series came from a determination to understand why, and to explore how their way back from war can be smoothed. Moral injury is a relatively new concept that seems to describe what many feel: a sense that their fundamental understanding of right and wrong has been violated, and the grief, numbness or guilt that often ensues.

Here, you will meet combat veterans struggling with the moral and ethical ambiguities of war. You will hear from some of the researchers and therapists working to help them cope, and you will come to understand some of the demons that veterans bring home from battle. However we individually feel about the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, these enduring moral wounds, to young Americans who fought on our behalf, must be counted among the ultimate costs.

Part 1

The Grunts

Damned If They Kill, Damned If They Don’t

Part 2

The Recruits

When Right And Wrong Are Hard To Tell Apart

Part 3


Can We Treat Moral Wounds?