The need: Every year, thousands of released Israeli combat soldiers face the difficult transition back into 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 even PTSD.
The intervention: Metiv’s 9-month Peace of Mind (POM) intervention consists of four phases; a two-day opening workshop, a week-long intensive overseas seminar, a full day of follow-up activities and a concluding workshop. Throughout the nine-month intervention, team members receive approximately 65 hours of group counselling, with those who need it receiving additional one on one follow up therapy.
About 15 veterans from a high-risk combat unit, within which there is a profound depth of trust, work with two therapists to process their experiences. Participants do not suffer from PTSD, yet are sorely in need of a place and time to process their combat experiences in a facilitated group setting.
A week with a Jewish community abroad: The most intensive part of the therapeutic process takes place while the unit is hosted by a Jewish community overseas. The distance from Israel, and the community support during this phase of the therapeutic process, play a crucial role in creating a safe, quiet and supportive environment. Participants report they have greater ability to process their combat experiences while abroad. An equally important element is the gratitude and warmth received from Diaspora Jewish communities, which gives veterans a sense of love, support and added purpose in defending Israel.
Benefit for IDF veterans: Two-thirds of participants show significant post-traumatic growth following their participation in the program. Other measures show significant increase in social support, functioning in everyday life, emotional regulation, decrease in depressive symptoms, better communication with their families and more. There are profound connections between families, communities, and Israel, with many soldiers not realizing the depth of support for them, and for Israel, in the Diaspora.
Benefit for host Jewish communities:Through POM, host communities demonstrate their active commitment to Israel and those who defend it. Members of host communities, especially young adults, are 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.
Since the program’s inception, over 60 groups have been hosted in Jewish communities in the UK, Canada, and the United States. Another 100 groups are on our waiting list. For more information please contact POM director Alon Weltman