Volunteers of America and LA County Dept. of Mental Health to Host Moral Injury Conference

Moral Injury Conference Logo 400 x 288

For Immediate Release:

Vicki Bendure, Bendure Communications
(540) 687-3360 or vicki@bendurepr.com

David Burch, Volunteers of America
(703) 341-5054 or dburch@voa.org

ALEXANDRIA, Va., April 17, 2019—The Shay Moral Injury Center at Volunteers of America and the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health are hosting a conference on moral injury at the University of Southern California (3607 Trousdale Pkwy., Los Angeles) May 29 to 31, 2019.

The conference will feature a variety of speakers who are experts on various aspects of moral injury and its impact. Sessions offer the chance to gain deeper knowledge of moral injury and learn recovery strategies for military veterans, caregivers, those seeking spiritual counseling or using mental health services, and new populations and professionals whose work includes physical and emotional care including family care giving, social work, medicine and chaplaincy. New applications of moral injury include religious communities, the incarceration and child welfare systems, social movements and caregiving work. The conference is also designed to provide professionals and students working in mental health, spiritual health, community and congregational leadership with continuing education with special emphasis on spiritual, mental, emotional, social and cultural.

Attendees are encouraged to work collaboratively, share knowledge and learn from one another as well as the conference faculty. Closed captioning and translation will be provided for plenary events and some seminars.

Registration opens at 7 a.m. on May 29, followed by plenary sessions from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in USC’s Great Trojan Ballroom (3607 Trousdale Pky.) The plenary sessions feature an exciting roundup of speakers. Seminars meet on May 30 from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and on May 31 from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., followed by lunch from 1 to 2 p.m. and then a closing session from 2 to 4 p.m. Seminars are 10 hours each, unless otherwise noted. There’s a reception on May 30 from 6 to 8 p.m. that allows participants to network with other attendees and speakers. The conference also will include an exhibit hall.

One day registration (May 29 only) is $150 and registration for the entire three-day conference is $350. Cost for students is $75 for one day (May 29 only) and $125 for the full three-day conference.  Register or learn more about the conference.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs defines moral injury as “the violation of what is right in high-stakes situations by a person with legitimate authority” and “a syndrome of shame, self-handicapping, anger and demoralization” resulting from experiences that challenge “deeply-held beliefs and expectations about moral and ethical conduct.” While moral injury first emerged in research on military veterans, anyone who works in high-stakes situations or who has endured trauma can experience it. When life offers dilemmas that deliver devastating consequences, moral injury can happen to anyone, anywhere and at any time. A crisis of conscience is a normal response to an experience of witnessing or inflicting harm that cannot be integrated into an existing moral system.

The effects of moral injury are pervasive on our society and contribute to homelessness; self-harm including suicide, rage, addiction, compulsive overwork; and/or depression. Unlike some causes of distress, moral injury is not a mental illness. It is an existential crisis in identity and meaning because of devastating life circumstances and it can happen at any age. Recovery is possible.


About Volunteers of America
Volunteers of America is a national, nonprofit, faith-based organization dedicated to helping those in need live healthy, safe and productive lives. Since 1896, our ministry of service has supported and empowered America's most vulnerable groups, including veterans, seniors, people with disabilities, at-risk youth, men and women returning from prison, homeless individuals and families, those recovering from addictions and many others. Through hundreds of human service programs, including housing and health care, Volunteers of America helps almost 1.5 million people in over 400 communities. We offer a variety of services for older Americans, in particular, that allow them to maintain their independence and quality of life – everything from an occasional helping hand to full-time care. Our work touches the mind, body, heart and ultimately the spirit of those we serve, integrating our deep compassion with highly effective programs and services.