CJP recently provided a $325,000 grant to Bshvil Hamachar—A Path to Tomorrow—supporting crucial mental health services for Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers after release.

Many suffer lasting trauma after leaving military duty. In fact, the IDF estimates that 95,000 active-duty soldiers and reservists will require mental health support and therapy delivery to process the acute emotionally traumatic experiences of the war in Gaza and the Northern Front. Of the 115,000 reservists deployed in combat since Oct. 7, an estimated 15% will suffer post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and 35% will experience partial PTSD symptoms.

PTSD sufferers typically endure severe anxiety, flashbacks, nightmares, insomnia, agitation and difficulty concentrating. Returning to family and friends after release—which should be a joyous reunion—is often undermined by these debilitating, alienating struggles. As a result, soldiers can have trouble reconnecting with loved ones and settling into the rhythm of everyday life. Lasting emotional support that recognizes the scope of their service, and their trauma, is crucial.

That’s why Bsvhil runs early intervention therapy programs in a peer-to-peer group setting in nature that help combat units recover from these extreme dynamics, prepare them to return to civilian life, help reduce the probability of onset of PTSD and, for some soldiers, ensure that they have a safe space to heal before returning to duty.

“This is a safe place where people can really open up and express themselves,” says chief development officer Maya Talmon-Chvaicer.

The group was established in 2009 with a unique spin on mental health care, providing group activities outdoors, facilitated by psychologists and outdoor therapists, with fellow soldiers. Programming is vetted through the University of Haifa and collaborated on with Israel’s Ministry of Defense and IDF’s Mental Health Department. So far, the organization has helped more than 4,000 veterans.

CJP’s funding for Bsvhil will support 25 combat units (nearly 400 reservist soldiers) who faced the most extreme scenarios of war through three-day programs and follow-up programming developed by Bshvil. Programs include their three-day retreats or eight-day journeys, comprising about 15 veterans ranging in age from 22 to 40.

The journeys are life-affirming and, in many cases, life-changing.

“After I was released [from the army], I went through a difficult time. Days of black heart and mind, of denial of feelings. I didn’t really want to be here anymore. A year after my release, I went on a journey with Bsvhil Hamachar—and it saved my life. To understand that there are others like me, that I’m not alone … to understand that my reaction is normal, it’s just the circumstances that were abnormal. The journey, the friends from the group and the personal connection with Bshvil helped me continue with my life in a healthy and complete way,” says paramedic Gaia Harris.

In addition, CJP’s grant supports hundreds of online therapy support group sessions for spouses and family members of reservists, some of whom have been away on duty for 120 days and whose families need support as returning soldiers reacclimate to civilian life.

“One of our participants had PTSD but was stable. After a while, he had a new, wonderful relationship. He told her about his PTSD, and she was very concerned, as you can imagine. She turned to the facilitator who worked with him, and after a long conversation, she decided to stay with him. They got married. I’m getting emotional—they just recently had a baby. The man wrote to the facilitator: ‘Bsvhil didn’t only save my life; it created a family,’” Talmon-Chvaicer says.

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