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Comics journalism: Shedding new light on veterans’ ‘moral injury’

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Check out the Boston public radio website WBUR for a powerful example of comics journalism: Invisible Injury: Beyond PTSD explores the emotional consequences of the decisions that soldiers make during wartime — decisions that often go against their own moral code.

“Moral injury” is something different from post-traumatic stress disorder. As the introduction explains, “Post-traumatic stress disorder is triggered by a terrible event — in combat, that’s often something that has happened to you. But what about a terrible event that has happened because of you?” The comic explores that question through a combination of conversations with veterans, flashbacks to actual events, and concise summaries of research on the topic. The visual medium really brings it to life, not just in the depiction of events but also in illustrating more abstract ideas, such as the way soldiers may become gradually alienated from the rest of the world in the course of war.

The comic was reported by Martha Bebinger, Samara Freemark and Jeff Severns Guntzel and drawn by Andy Warner, and produced in partnership with the comics-journalism magazine Symbolia; it’s part of a larger project, “Moral Injury: An Invisible Wound of War,” produced by WBUR and American Public Media’s Public Insight Network.

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