Moral Injury in the Seventeenth and Twenty-First Centuries

The Martyr of Solway | John Everett Millais | Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool

About Highland Soldiers 3: The Return

Each book of the Highland Soldiers series deals with an issue a soldiers faces as a result of their service to clan and King. In Book 1, the hero falls in love with a woman who views him as her enemy. In Books 2, the hero returns to the woman he loves, only to find her engaged to another.

When I began Book 3, I kept coming back to the image of the Wigtown Martyrs, two women whose only crime was not attending church as required by law. While they could have atoned by declaring their allegiance to the King, they refused on principle. For this, they were sentenced to death. They were tied to stakes at low tide, and left to drown as the tide came in. Some accounts tell of soldiers pleading with them to say the words that would free them, but the women would not.

Those soldiers were following orders. Had they refused, others would have stepped in to get the job done. So they did as they were ordered, as was their duty. But how did they justify their actions afterward? How did they live with themselves?

In The Return (Highland Soldiers 3), the hero faces a similar sort of situation, and is haunted by the memory of what he has done.

There was no treatment available for the 17th century hero in my story. But today’s soldiers returning home with similar emotional wounds can seek treatment for Moral Injury. Here is some more information about it:

Moral Injury Is The ‘Signature Wound’ Of Today’s Veterans