Brite Divinity School has recently received a $650,000 grant from the Lilly Endowment to fund a program to study “moral injury” in combat veterans and to train communities in supporting recovery. The Soul Repair Project will begin in June 2012 and launch a study center with a conference on Nov. 12, 2012.
“Veteran suicide rates are alarmingly high, and we believe one important factor is the neglect of attention to moral injury. It is confused with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but they are different,”according to project initiators, Drs. Rita Nakashima Brock and Gabriella Lettini. “Moral injury is the response of healthy people to war, not a psychological disorder,” they explain.
Dr. Newell Williams, president of Brite Divinity School, will oversee The Soul Repair Project. Implementation will be directed by a team of three who have been guiding the creation of the project since 2009: co-directors are the Rev. Dr. Rita Nakashima Brock of the Brite faculty and the Rev. Herman Keizer Jr. U.S. Army Colonel (ret.); the Center’s National Advisory Board will be chaired by Rev. Dr. Gabriella Lettini of the Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, CA.
Rita Nakashima Brock is the daughter of a veteran of the Korean War and stepdaughter of a U.S. Army veteran of World War II and the Vietnam War. She holds a doctorate in theology, was a senior administrator at Harvard University and is Director of the nonprofit, interfaith organization, FaithVoices for the Common Good. Her book with Gabriella Lettini, Soul Repair: Recovering from Moral Injury after War, will be released November 6, 2012, by Beacon Press.
Herman Keizer, Jr. is a retired Army Chaplain Colonel with 45 military decorations, who served for nearly 40 years and was wounded twice in Vietnam. Rev. Keizer is Director of Chaplaincy Ministries (emeritus) for the Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRCNA).
Gabriella Lettinin, a native of Italy and an ordained Waldensian pastor, is Academic Dean of the Starr King School for the Ministry and Professor of theological ethics. Her family fought in the resistance inItaly during World War II.
Lilly Endowment Inc., based in Indianapolis, is one of the world’s largest private philanthropic foundations, among the 10 largest such endowments in the United States and one of the few that funds religion.