At TRR we work with horses on the ground only.  We know that going to war often results in an injury to the moral core of our warriors – their very heart and soul. This is what Moral Injury is about. It is an existential and/or spiritual crisis that arises when human beings are responsible for, or feel responsible for, taking a human life, witnessing the taking of human life, or being unable to prevent the taking of human life.

Moral Injury is what happens to warriors who have been trained to override the intrinsic aversion to killing – necessary among war fighters for survival in combat. The difficulty is that when human beings kill other humans, it feels like a violation of a moral code that we all live by. It is felt very deeply by many and is often not spoken about or explored, especially in traditional PTSD treatment.

Warriors whose Moral injury is not being addressed are not receiving adequate care.

Karl Marlantes, author of What It Is Like To Go To War, said it this way, “Killing someone without splitting oneself from the feelings that the act engenders requires an effort of supreme consciousness that, quite frankly, is beyond most humans. Killing is what warriors do for society, Then when they return home, society doesn’t generally acknowledge that the act it asked them to do created a deep split in the psyche, a psychological and spiritual weight most of them will stumble beneath the rest of their lives. Warriors must learn how to integrate the experience of killing, to put the pieces of their psyche back together again. For the most part, they have been left to do this on their own.”

We cannot allow our warriors to do this on their own, because the legacy of that strategy has resulted in an unrelenting high rate of suicide. People who feel they have done something terribly wrong, even if ordered to do so or if necessary for survival – theirs or their battle buddies – are sometimes left thinking they deserve punishment. They, at times, unfortunately – and tragically – punish themselves.

Working with horses who are at liberty, free to come and go, to approach a spiritually wounded warrior, or not – enables the horse’s instinctive, nonjudgmental and forgiving nature to tap into that morally injured part of the warrior that needs to be healed.

Alex Betke is an attorney and registered lobbyist focusing his practice on Government Relations and Municipal Law, a unique combination of legal concentrations allowing him to meet clients’ needs at all levels of government and to provide innovative resolutions to a variety of legal challenges.

Alex enjoys considerable experience working with the Governor’s Office, the Legislature, state agencies, the Attorney General and the State Comptroller, along with New York’s federal government representatives. His clients range from major industry associations and fortune 500 companies to small businesses and not-for-profit organizations, with work encompassing all aspects of government relations, including legislation, procurement, appropriations and regulatory matters.

Previously, Alex was elected for eight years as the Town Supervisor of the Town of Coxsackie and served several terms as a councilman before holding that post. Based on his experience and exposure to the workings of local government, he established and grew a municipal practice, and continues to serve as general and special counsel to various municipalities.

Alex has been involved in New York State politics throughout his career, serving as an elected state committeeman for the New York State Democratic Party and working on several statewide campaigns. This experience, in addition to his professional work, contributes to and informs his approach to legal matters and increases his effectiveness in advancing client objectives.