A good war? exploring British veterans’ moral evaluation of deployment

Karen Burnell, N. Boyce, N. Hunt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Historically, war trauma research has concentrated on the relationship between level of exposure and development of post-traumatic symptoms. More recently, it has been recognized that intra- and interpersonal differences can mediate how service personnel are affected by their experiences. This paper is a qualitative study exploring moral evaluations of 30 British male veterans towards their deployment in conflicts from WWII to the most recent Iraq War (2003–2009). Retrospective thematic analysis is used to explore moral evaluation and societal support. Four categories emerged based on veterans’ moral evaluation of deployment: justifiable, implicitly justifiable, unclear, and unjustifiable. Analysis revealed broad differences between these groups. Veterans able to justify their experiences reported more positive aspects of both deployment and societal support than those unable to justify their deployment. These findings make clear the importance of future research exploring the interactions between civilians and service personnel, and the impact this has on mental health.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-42
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Anxiety Disorders
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011


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