I just heard a story of an Israeli kid after the army on a trek in Peru who stood too close to a geyser and now has severe burns all over his body. Last year in the post-army trek, an ex-soldier fell into a volcano! What is it, I keep asking myself, that makes our young soldiers court danger when finally released from their compulsory army service? This letter I received from Dr. Danny Brom of the Trauma Center does much to answer that question, and to provide a long-needed solution:
One of our flagship projects at this moment is what we do with released soldiers. I am still amazed how we, as the Israeli society, think we can send our kids into combat for three years and then send them back to civilian life without any help in transition. And then we are surprised that we find them, or some of them, in the Far East or South America trying lots of drugs and engaging in risk- taking behavior. I am quite amazed how no
transition has been planned for when you come out of the army. We have developed a program and named it “Peace of Mind.” It gives combat units after they are released time to process their experiences, find meaning and help each other in these closely knit units.
The program involves the Jewish world outside of Israel in making this possible, not only in terms of finances, but in the middle of this program a unit of 15 released soldiers and two therapists are being hosted in a Jewish community somewhere in the world for a whole week. During this week, each morning is dedicated to group work on processing their experiences, while the afternoon and evening is spent having fun connecting with the community. While it wasn’t planned this way, the wonderful reception these groups have experienced in Jewish communities has become a major ingredient of the program. It is for many Israeli kids the first time they understand that they are not only defending Israel, but the Jewish people. That has a strong influence. The larger, and probably not realistic, vision behind this program is that this should become a “reverse birthright” program for Israeli youngsters who have done combat service.
The other so much needed program is that we are setting up is psychosocial services for the Ethiopian Jews, who have undergone major traumatic events in their journeys to come to Israel. There is no existing service for them, even when we know that the highest homicide and suicide rates in the Israeli society are in the Ethiopian community.
In our efforts to get all of this to a good place, we, of course, do a lot of things. One of them is a bike-ride from May 2 to 5 in which we try to find sponsored riders for three days. It is fundraising and at the same time a wonderful bike trip.
Join bikers from Israel and around the world for three days (one day option available) of cycling throughout Israel while supporting the Israel Center for the Treatment of Psychotrauma’s child resilience programs. ICTP’s unique child resilience programs work with educators, parents, and children in order to create comprehensive systems of support for traumatized children.
For more information, go to www.traumaweb.org