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War psychology research expands, troops found to suffer 'moral injuries'

As researchers and psychologists have come to a better understanding of post traumatic stress disorder a different kind of suffering among veterans has surfaced, a feeling of guilt or inner conflict called 'moral injury.'

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Former Marine Capt. Timothy Kudo sits outside his apartment in Brooklyn in October 2011. Kudo walks among civilians carrying a burden of guilt most Americans don’t want to share. A veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Kudo thinks of himself as a killer. "I can't forgive myself ... and the people who can forgive me are dead," he said.

John Minchillo/AP

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A veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, former Marine Capt. Timothy Kudo thinks of himself as a killer — and he carries the guilt every day.

"I can't forgive myself," he says. "And the people who can forgive me are dead."

With American troops at war for more than a decade, there's been an unprecedented number of studies into war zone psychology and an evolving understanding of post-traumatic stress disorder. Clinicians suspect some troops are suffering from what they call "moral injuries" — wounds from having done something, or failed to stop something, that violates their moral code.

 
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