Peace of Mind for IDF Combat Veterans
- The need
- The intervention
- Benefit for IDF veterans:
- The role of Jewish communities abroad
Every year, thousands of released Israeli combat soldiers face the difficult transition back to civilian life. Many spend months overseas as a means to discharge and mitigate the psychological impact of intense combat experiences faced during their military service. Despite the well-known image of the resilient Israeli soldier, long-term effects of veterans’ exposure to stress from combat are well documented. Veterans can suffer from a myriad of psychological difficulties ranging from difficulties in relationships, aggressiveness, sleep disturbances, substance abuse, and depression.
Peace of Mind works with 15-20 IDF veterans from a high-risk combat unit who all served together. Led by two Metiv therapists, the intervention consists of approximately 65 hours of group counselling and 12 individual sessions for those needing further care. Participants do not typically suffer from PTSD, yet are sorely in need of a place and time to process their combat experiences. The group setting allowing for greater mutual support while simultaneously de-stigmatizing mental health care.
70% of participants show significant post-traumatic growth following their participation in the program. 82% report increased self-awareness, and 66% report an increased ability to share personal experiences and emotions. Other measures include increased social support, everyday functioning, emotional regulation, decrease in depressive symptoms, better communication with their families and more.
Until the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, a major part of the group therapeutic process would take place while the unit was hosted by a Jewish community overseas. The distance from Israel, and the community support during this phase of the therapeutic process, played an important role in creating a safe, quiet and supportive environment. Members of host communities, especially young adults, were afforded the opportunity to spend quality time with Israel’s best young men and women, in the process creating long-lasting personal ties and relationships that helped make Israel real for them. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, all programing currently takes place in Israel, but we plan to resume programing in partnership with our Jewish community partners when it once again becomes possible.