Peace of Mind for veterans
"Only now I know that my life changed twice in the past sixteen months, once it changed during the war and I didn’t realize it, because I thought it was normal to be constantly tense. The second time my life changed was during the Peace of Mind program where I gained a perspective of how to continue with the rest of my life."
A paramedic in the rescue unit of the Israeli Air Force after he participated in one of the first workshops in October 2007.
The need: Every year, thousands of veterans face the difficult transition back into civilian life. Despite the well-known image of the resilient Israeli, long-term effects of veterans’ exposure to stress from combat are well documented. Veterans can suffer from myriad psychological difficulties ranging from difficulties in relationships, aggressiveness, sleep disturbances, substance abuse, and even PTS.
The intervention: Peace of Mind Canada's (POM) 9-month long 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 additional counselling for those who require additional therapeutic interventions.
Approximately 17 veterans work with two therapists to process their experiences. Participants do not suffer from PTSD, yet are very much 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 a Jewish community overseas hosts the unit. 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 that they have a 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 and support.
Benefit for 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, and better communication with their families and more. There are profound connections between families, communities, and Israel, with many participants not realizing the depth of support for them, and for Israel, in the Diaspora.
Benefit for host communities: Through POM, host communities demonstrate their active commitment to Israel and those who have defended 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.
Why Peace of Mind?
Israel's veterans rarely speak out about the psychological and emotional trauma that they experienced during their three years of service, most notably, the harrowing events that occurred during the Second Lebanon War. Peace of Mind ensures that their voices are heard. Our programme provides these brave men and women the tools which will help to alleviate the heavy burden that they carry and enable them to live healthy, happy and productive civilian lives.