Date of Graduation

Spring 5-30-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology (PsyD)


School of Nursing and Health Professions




Clinical Psychology (PsyD)

First Advisor

Richard "Brac" Selph, PsyD

Second Advisor

Quyen Tiet, PhD

Third Advisor

William Hua, PhD


Trends in demographics of post-9/11 veterans (deployments to the Middle East after 2001) describe this group as having higher survival rates, increased service-connected disabilities, and more racially diverse (NCVAS, 2018; Schnurr et al., 2009; Tanelian & Jaycox, 2008). Additionally, their deployment experiences include combat-related experiences that contradict personal moral beliefs, later named “moral injury” (MI) (Litz et al., 2009). Currier, Holland, and Mallot (2015) describe MI as intense emotions of shame, guilt, and anger alongside maladaptive behaviors emerging after “witnessing and/or participating in warzone events that challenge one’s basic sense of humanity” (p. 231).

The research on MI continues to analyze factors increasing the risk of MI. Wisco et al. (2017) found that ethnic/racial minority veterans are more susceptible to MI, yet this finding lacks evidence. To fill this gap, this study analyzed perspectives of ethnic/racial minority male veterans impacted by MI via qualitative methodology. Themes from interviews suggest the salience of recognizing moral values informed by cultural norms, such as collectivism, and how this influences the etiology of MI. Collectivism put participants at greater risk of experiencing moral transgressions engendering increased tension due to dissonance between collectivist values (i.e. social harmony) and military values. These moral transgressions followed participants home impacting reintegration due to impaired self-schemas and maladaptive behaviors. Additionally, participants unique descriptions of racism and discrimination represent violations of trust by military and trusted others adding dimension on how betrayal is experienced within MI for ethnic/racial minority veterans.