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Restorative justice could help military veterans suffering from moral injuries

March 10, 2013

According to Shay the response to moral injuries does not come in the form of any medical intervention applied by professionals, but instead he says: [R]ecovery happens only in community. And typically, the first community in which that is going to work is the community of fellow veterans.”

Restorative practices are community based processes that address behavior that has harmed others and looks for ways to try and make things right and to repair the harm.

John Braitwaite, one of the world’s most respected restorative justice experts, says that restorative processes are about giving “the stakeholders affected by an injustice an opportunity to tell their stories about its consequences an what needs to be done to put things right…done within a framework of restorative values that include the need to heal the hurts that have been felt (p. vii Restorative Justice and Responsive Regulation). Stakeholders can be anyone harmed including members of the community who do not personally know the person who caused the harm.

While restorative justice is commonly thought of for use in criminal cases, it has vast applications in civil settings. Our work in a variety of settings in Hawai’i and also many other places as discussed in Restorative Justice Today: Practical Applications, shows that face to face meetings are not required for healing.

….Restorative justice could also help veterans returning from deployment who are reentering the community. Reentry planning circles that also address restoring relationships with loved ones and the wider community, could help with this transition and also address any moral injuries the soldiers have suffered. The circle could also address any suffering their families have naturally suffered due to the loss of their presence in the home, etc., while the were away.

Read the whole article.


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