I have been reflecting on the relationship between morals and ethics, two words that usually send a shudder down the spine of all those who have very little interest in formal philosophy. True, these discussions can be terribly tedious and abstract. However, I don’t intend to go that direction with this entry. I will keep this “on the ground” where people live, work, and fight wars.

First, why would the difference between morality and ethics even matter? The unique nature of these two ways of evaluating situations and behavior matters when we talk about Moral Injury; yet, I have seen very little treatment of this difference in things I have been reading. We talk about “damage to the moral compass,” or “a wounded sense of personal morality,” or “the violation of a person’s moral code,” but I rarely see any discussion that dips beneath the surface in order to define what exactly we are talking about in these terms. We are assuming understood definitions. Before we can have a clear idea of what the very nebulous term “Moral Injury” can and should mean, we have to understand what we mean when we talk about morality. Further, when you push morality and ethics together in an unclear way, you lose a clean definition of either term, enhancing confusion. When morality and ethics become lumped into the same general discussion of “right and wrong,” things become unclear, confusing, and inaccurate.

When discussions about morals and ethics become unclear, confusing, and inaccurate, it becomes impossible to effectively address the existential crisis of moral injury. We at TRR believe that the lack of effective treatment of Moral Injury creates the conditions for great suffering among this country’s war veteran community.

Basically, ethics refers to the mechanics–the mechanisms–of making decisions concerning “doing the right thing” in a given situation. Morals represent the internal principles held by a person that governs those mechanics. Morality functions as the “energy” the moves the mechanisms of decision making forward toward an end state. As an example, the Laws of War represent ethical mechanisms designed to assist in deciding between possible actions. The beliefs, intuitions, and sensations/feelings that provide the reason behind the crafting and publishing of those mechanisms as guidelines constitutes the “moral compass” that motivates the defining of ethical behavior. It is the same thing with the Rules of Engagement. These Rules comprise the ethical matrix for decision making. The motivation behind the crafting of that matrix makes up the moral energy that stimulates the defining of these Rules.

This is where things get tricky for the Warrior: what happens when the internal moral sensibility (the “ability to sense/feel” conscious beliefs and/or unspoken intuitions) comes into conflict with the defined ethics of those with command authority? What happens when a Warrior receives guidance from those with command authority that conflicts with the Warrior’s internal moral energy? What happens to the Warrior who follows his/her moral sensibilities rather than following command guidance out of the sense of moral consciousness we call “conscience?” And what happens to the Warrior who works against his/her conscience to obey the “lawful” directives of those with the authority to command? These represent the central questions within discussions concerning the strange term “Moral Injury.”

Moral Injury describes in insufficient but acceptable terms the existential crisis that invades a person’s life when he/she steps through a liminal experience into a new “life space” that is characterized by the disruption–sometimes shattering–of the internal congruence that accompanies living within one’s moral framework. There exists no visible wound or injury. No particular part of the brain has been physically damaged. Moral Injury represents a “soul wound,” if you will; a profound disturbance at a person’s core self. In that “place” where identity and meaning combine to define personal purpose, energy flow becomes sporadic and unpredictable. A “liminal” experience describes an experience that facilitates a life-altering transition, and it can be intentional or accidental. Graduation from high school/college, earning Eagle Scout, being baptized, receiving first Communion, or bar/bat mitzvah, the final ritual of a silent retreat, concluding a sweat lodge or vision quest, etc. These are intentional experiences designed to bring about transition. Some liminal experiences come without our bidding, and some are joyous occasions while others are not. Your eyes come upon a beautiful scene while you are hiking, and you suddenly realize the deep value of life and vow to go on that pilgrimage you have put off for years. Or you go to war, and in the process you find yourself inhabiting a world full of sorrow because your deeply held views of how things should be has been crushed. There exists no visible injury, but you are hurt nonetheless and your life now carries with it a heavy-heartedness you cannot escape.

Moral sensibility lives in the “gut.” Ethical thought processes move around in the airy space of the cognitive brain. Morality comes intuitively. Ethics come from intentional learning. If you did not sit and receive the Laws of War or the Rules of Engagement, you could not guess them, though you might be able to figure some of them out just from “common sense.” However, you don’t need a PowerPoint presentation to tell you that killing an innocent person on purpose, or accidentally, is wrong and that a strategically important mission may not be worth the “collateral damage” it causes. You certainly don’t need a lecture to help you understand that any killing at all in combat can tie your guts in a knot that hurts with a dull pain that you cannot shake because killing other human beings just hurts. I’ve been to war four times, and I have NEVER seen a pre-deployment brief that covers that. These sensibilities come “built in” and require no block of instruction. And the violation of those innate sensibilities represents the core what we call Moral Injury. I have never seen an ethical argument about having “done the right thing” according to defined Laws and Rules bring comfort to someone suffering from the existential pain of having done something that his/her innate moral sensibility experiences as reprehensible, or unforgivable.

To conclude, you can throw ethics at moral sensibility all day long without altering the existential primacy of a person’s internal moral conscience. If moral consciousness registers transgression, “sin,” fault, responsibility, or violation, logical presentations of ethical definitions will sound like nothing more than a person smashing two cymbals together–it is a waste of breath and time. How to speak to the moral sensibility of person will comprise the subject matter of a future post. It will suffice to say this for now: you can’t speak to someone’s heart from your head. You can’t fix a moral quandary with ethical frameworks. It just won’t work because it’s a category error that offers the wrong medicine for the moral wound.

David N. Weinraub is the co-founder and managing partner of BrownWeinraub, New York’s top lobbying firm. He sets the overarching vision for the firm and provides the strategic framework necessary to meet each client’s objectives.

David was a member of Governor Mario M. Cuomo’s senior staff, serving as Director of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs. He was also Counsel to Lieutenant Governor Stan Lundine and Director of Regional Services for the Department of State. The common theme of David’s government service – confidential, high level, complex assignments with little margin for error. Throughout his tenure, he was able to manage teams of diverse personnel and deliver victories across program areas and across the state. David was asked regularly to develop campaign plans for a variety of ballot initiatives and to advise on numerous elections at all levels of government.

The firm’s growing list of clients attests in no small part to David’s creativity, prudent judgment and network of key policy makers and political thought leaders throughout the country. He has taught at St. John’s University and serves on various law panels. David is a trustee of the Citizens Budget Commission and serves on the board of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, New York Chapter.  

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.

David R. Everett is a partner in the Firm’s  Environmental, Municipal and Real Estate Development, Zoning and Land Use, and Energy and Telecommunications Practice Groups. His areas of expertise include land use law, zoning and planning, real estate development, SEQRA compliance, solid waste management and environmental regulations. Mr. Everett routinely lectures on SEQRA compliance, zoning and planning issues and environmental permitting regulations throughout New York State for the N.Y. Association of Towns and N.Y. Planning Federation, among others.

Representative Accomplishments

  • Acted as lead counsel for the development of numerous large warehouse distribution centers for FORTUNE 10 corporations and e-commerce companies.   Handled distribution centers ranging in size from 200,000 square feet to over 1 million square feet.  Also handled distribution centers located adjacent to Stewart International Airport in the Town of Newburgh, NY.  Handled all aspects of the development process including negotiating land purchase agreements and other transactional matters, handling due diligence investigations, obtaining right to build approvals and financial incentives and successfully defending litigation challenging project approvals.
  • Acted as lead counsel for the municipal review and approval of one of the largest private residential golf resorts in the Hudson Valley valued at between $750 million to $1 billion. The resort contained hundreds of dwelling units consisting of estate homes, single-family homes, condos, townhomes, hotel lodging units, a championship golf course, club house, recreational amenities,  and related improvements. Handled all aspects of site plan and subdivision reviews, environmental review, performance bonding, transportation corporations for water and wastewater disposal, conservation easements, public park easement, homeowner’s association, etc. Successfully handled numerous lawsuits seeking to overturn the environmental and land use approvals for the project.
  • Acted as lead counsel to several religious organizations in the Hudson Valley in the development of monasteries, missionary training facilities, literature production facilities, administrative offices, residential facilities and worship halls. Also handled all aspects of site selection and acquisition, due diligence, land use and environmental approvals, RLUIPA, etc.
  • Acted as the lead counsel for a national home builder in connection with the development of over 3,000 homes in the greater New York City area including single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, age-restricted communities and affordable housing. Conducted environmental due diligence investigations related to the development of large residential communities. Assisted with the redevelopment of large urban brownfield sites for residential communities. 
  • Acted as lead counsel for one of the largest real estate developers in New York State in connection with the development of shopping centers including strip centers, neighborhood and community retail stores, power centers and lifestyle centers.  Assisted a client in securing $500 million in private financing to construct a super-regional shopping mall in the lower Hudson Valley.  
  • Acted as lead counsel for the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) in connection with obtaining land use and environmental approvals for the construction of the power control center (PCC) for New York State.  The PCC operates and controls the bulk electric transmission grid across the State.
  • Acted as lead counsel in connection with the development, construction and operation of the largest private motorcycle racetrack in the country.  Successfully defended multiple lawsuits challenging the land use and environmental approvals for the track.
  • Acted as lead counsel in building a coalition of almost 50 municipalities from across the State to file amicus curaie briefs in lawsuits challenging the legal authority of municipalities to adopt zoning controls on natural gas drilling.
  • Acted as lead counsel for over 60 municipalities in the Southern Tier of New York State in connection with developing and implementing local road protection programs with respect to natural gas drilling operations.
  • Assisted the New York State Thruway Authority with environmental impact assessment and permitting issues associated with the redevelopment of the Tappan Zee Bridge and I-287 corridor from Port Chester, NY to Suffern, NY. 
  • Assisted Woodstock Ventures in obtaining land use and environmental approvals for the Woodstock Music Festivals in 1994 and 1999. Prepared and negotiated numerous contracts on environmental issues including contracts for the removal of septage, solid waste, hazardous waste and regulated medical waste. 
  • Assisted clients in obtaining land use approvals from planning, zoning and legislative boards including site plan and subdivision approvals, special use permits, variances, zoning amendments, etc. Handled all aspects of land use litigation. 
  • Assisted clients in obtaining environmental permits and approvals from federal, State and local agencies including wetland permits, SPDES permits, stream impact permits, flood protection permits, air permits, stormwater permits, etc. 
  • Assisted FORTUNE 500 companies in complying with State and federal environmental laws including air, water and underground storage tank regulations. 
  • Represented clients before State and federal agencies in enforcement actions regarding alleged violations of environmental laws. Negotiated consent orders with the EPA and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
  • Represented resource recovery agencies in siting county-wide landfills, developing solid waste management plans, and preparing, adopting and enforcing flow control and recycling regulations. Handled litigation challenging the constitutionality of flow control laws.

Charles Gottlieb is a Partner of Whiteman Osterman & Hanna’s Real Estate Development, Zoning and Land Use; Environmental; Municipal; and Energy and Telecommunications practice groups. His expertise is in representing residential and commercial developers, religious institutions, non-profit organizations and public utility infrastructure companies to obtain needed land use and environmental permits.  Prior to joining the firm, Charles was an associate attorney at Cuddy & Feder, LLP in Westchester County and previously served as a legal intern for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Representative Accomplishments

  • Assists clients with all aspects of the land use permitting process, including the State Environmental Quality Review Act, and regularly appear before municipal land use, zoning and environmental permitting agencies.
  • Assists telecommunications infrastructure companies and wireless carriers in obtaining permits from local land use agencies and advise on compliance with the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and related FCC orders.
  • Successfully assisted clients before local land use agencies related to New York’s Padavan Law and local, State and Federal historic preservation laws.
  • Represents clients during Article 78 litigation proceedings in resolving their real estate, land use and zoning, and environmental disputes.
  • Effectively defend clients subject to municipal zoning and environmental enforcement actions.
  • Obtain favorable rezoning and zoning interpretations for developers before local legislative bodies, local code enforcement officers, and local Zoning Boards of Appeal.


Charles is admitted to practice in the State of New York and Connecticut, and the Northern and Southern District Federal Courts.  Charles is also a member of the New York State Bar Association and the American Bar Association. 


Charles is on the Board of Directors of the City of Troy Boys and Girls Club in New York.


Planning and Permitting Mobile Broadband Communications Infrastructure: Is It Time to Amend Your Code? Presentation, Land Use and Sustainable Development Law Institute at Touro Law School, 2015

Municipal Land Use and Legal Considerations Associated With Advancing Technologies That Are Critical To Communities in Transition, Presentation, PACE 2014 Land Use and Sustainable Development Conference Transitioning Communities, Pace Law School, 2014.

Land Use and Planning: Preventing Flight of Millennials, Publication, New York Law Journal, November 3, 2015


Charles, originally from Vermont, received a Juris Doctor, cum laude, from Albany Law School in 2011.  He also received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Quinnipiac University in 2008.

Dan Hubbell is a Partner with Whiteman Osterman & Hanna joining the Firm in September 2014.  Mr. Hubbell primarily represents public, not-for-profit, and private entities in real estate, land use, development, and real property taxation matters, with an emphasis on acquisition, financing, development, leasing, and disposition of commercial and corporate real property, including the preparation and negotiations of all transactional documents.  Additionally, Mr. Hubbell provides guidance to public and private entities concerning real property tax assessments, exemptions and payment in lieu of taxes agreements.  Prior to practicing law, Mr. Hubbell worked as a commercial real estate appraiser, performing complex appraisal assignments on various property types.

Representative Accomplishments

  • Represented multiple private entities in the acquisition, financing, development and leasing of retail, office, industrial and multi-family residential properties.
  • Represented multiple not-for-profit and religious corporations in the acquisition, financing, development and disposition of corporate real property, including applications to the New York State Attorney General or Supreme Court for approval of such transactions.
  • Represented developers of residential condominium and homeowners’ association projects in preparing and filing offering plans with the New York State Attorney General.
  • Co-counsel to local development authority, advising on all economic development issues, including development, construction, financing, payment in lieu of tax and other agreements.
  • Represented public housing authority in a public-private RAD (Rental Assistance Demonstration) conversion of the authority’s entire real estate portfolio.
  • Commenced and negotiated the settlement of multiple tax certiorari proceedings relating to various property types, including retail centers, office buildings, multi-family apartment complexes, industrial buildings, hydro-electric facilities, lumber mills, farms and agricultural lands, and residences.


Mr. Hubbell is a member of the New York State Bar and a New York State Certified General Real Estate Appraiser.  He is a Practicing Affiliate of the Appraisal Institute and a past board member of the Mid-Hudson Chapter of the Appraisal Institute.  Mr. Hubbell serves on the Board of Directors of Hudson River Housing and is a past president of the organization.  


Mr. Hubbell graduated magna cum laude from Albany Law School, where he was a member of the Albany Law Review.  While in law school, Mr. Hubbell was a legal intern in the Criminal Prosecutions and Public Integrity Bureaus of the New York State Office of the Attorney General, as well as a summer associate with Whiteman Osterman & Hanna LLP.  Mr. Hubbell also holds a Master of Science degree in Non-Profit/NGO Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania. During his time at the University of Pennsylvania, Mr. Hubbell interned as a grants officer with the Wachovia Regional Foundation and served as a consultant to the United Nations Office of Human Resources Management. Prior to graduate school, Mr. Hubbell worked in the non-profit sector, founding and leading a local education non-profit in south-central Pennsylvania. Mr. Hubbell received his Bachelors of Arts from the University of Valley Forge, graduating magna cum laude.  

Boyu comes to Vanreusel Ventures from an analyst background, after a 3-year career with Lion Raisins Corp. He spent this time developing models for valuing stock on behalf of investors – drawing on income comparisons, revenue trends, profit analysis, and more.

Now as the Sr. Financial Analyst, he brings all these talents to bear as part of the Vanreusel team. Through trend analysis, modeling, and data management, he keeps our financial models aligned with movement in the markets. Then for clients, he builds sales and revenue forecasts to factor risk and rewards into the decision process.

Born in China, Boyu studied for a BA in Economics at Syracuse University, then a Master of Science in Finance degree at the University of Maryland College Park. Away from work, he plays basketball and loves traveling – experiencing different cultures and food whenever he has the chance.

John Blackburn has over 40 years of experience in the practice of architecture. He received his Master of Architecture and Urban Design degree from Washington University in St. Louis in 1972 and was principal of his own firm from 1976-1979 before joining Keyes Condon Florence Architects as an Associate Architect for four years. In 1983, he founded Smith Blackburn Architects with Robert Smith, AIA and merged with Richard Stauffer Associates in 1987 to form Smith Blackburn Stauffer. In 1995, the firm incorporated and changed its name to Blackburn Architects, P.C.

Mr. Blackburn is the senior principal of the firm and is responsible for overall firm management. His experience includes the management of a full range of project types and services, including programming, existing facility evaluation and master planning, new construction, adaptive reuse, and historic preservation.

Mr. Blackburn has over 30 years of experience in equestrian design and is renowned worldwide as an industry leader. His equestrian projects range from polo barns and thoroughbred-training facilities to therapeutic riding centers and private ranches. Blackburn’s designs rely on the active principles of passive design to encourage animal safety and sustainable facilities.

Mr. Blackburn has co-authored two highly lauded books, Healthy Stables by Design, and American Equestrian Design; both of which focus on the firm's long practice of designing exceptional equestrian properties.

As a Project Manager in Bohler’s Albany office, Tim is a practicing Professional Engineer who helps owners and developers identify opportunities to become accomplished. With a degree in Civil Engineering and Geography from Syracuse University, and more than 9 years of experience in site civil engineering design and permitting fields, Tim leads a growing team of talented engineers and designers who bring clients’ visions to life. Tim drives the development process, guiding projects from due diligence and conceptual design through site design, entitlements, and construction.

Jeff Newman, of Stone Creek Planning and Management, has more than two decades of experience operating and managing large properties, including a 236-acre horse farm and retreat center. He comes to TRR to share his operational expertise as part of the Farm Team.  With a certification in Permaculture Design, Jeff will work to ensure that the site will be not just sustainable, but regenerative in its design.