This comes by way of the May 2017 issue of Christian magazine Guideposts.
The Price of Caring
Moral injury is a wound to the conscience, and nothing inflicts it more deeply than war
[What follows is the story of Sergeant First Class Marshall Powell, U.S. Army, retired; he was serving in a hospital in Iraq in 2007 when they received a deluge of patients.
Among them was a five or six year old girl who was mortally wounded. There was no way for the girl to be saved. She lay in the hallway moaning in pain. There was nothing that could be done for her.
Powell administered enough morphine to knock her out and take her life – he did this to end her suffering. He spent years harboring guilt over this and suffered side-effects. What he underwent is known as “Moral Injury”]
From page 43:
Moral injury is a relatively recent term used to describe a crisis that soldiers like Marshall Powell have faced for centuries, the internal suffering that results from doing something against your moral code. In essence it is a wound to the conscience.
What causes moral injury?
In a combat situation such as Powell’s, the damage done to a person’s psyche might result from following or issuing certain orders or from simply witnessing something that is deeply offensive to his or her moral sense.
Does it apply only to soldiers?
Not at all. In times of stress, people can act against their moral code. A poverty-stricken mother abandons her children; a drug addict commits a crime to support a habit; an office worker fabricates documents for fear of losing a job.