IN TEL AVIV yesterday are, from left, former US soldier Corey Gibson, former IDF border policeman Moti Elmaliach and former US soldier Harrison Manyoma..
(photo credit: YAAKOV LAPPIN)
A delegation of 13 American veterans dealing with PTSD and wounds inflicted in battle are in Israel for a 10-day visit, meeting with Israeli veterans.
The former US servicemen arrived on a visit organized by the Heroes to Heroes Foundation, an American veteran support organization, and came to the Zahal Disabled Veterans Organization – Beit Halochem rehabilitation center in Tel Aviv on Monday.
“We are brothers,” Sgt.
(ret.) Harrison Manyoma, who was wounded by a car bomb in west Baghdad in 2004 while serving in the US Army, told The Jerusalem Post, referring to the Israeli veterans.
“We are veterans of Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam.
The veterans on this program went through a selection process. Veterans going through PTSD and disabilities keeping them from society were selected. It’s a lengthy process,” said Manyoma, who hails from the Houston, Texas area.
Specialist (ret.) Corey Gibson, a US Army triage medic whose unit, the 555th Forward Surgical Team, was one of the first to enter Iraq in 2003, sustained head and spinal injuries from an improvised explosive device. He said the veterans visiting Israel are dealing with problems such as severe isolation from society or suicidal thoughts. “We try to find the extreme,” he said.
The delegation will travel throughout the country, seeing how Israel deals with its wounded veterans, and forming bonds with Israeli counterparts, Gibson, who is from Indiana, said. “This helps therapeutic healing,” he added.
The event was jointly organized by Judy Schaffer, founder of Heroes to Heroes, and Ora Seidner, project developer for the Zahal Disabled Veterans Organization.
Moti Elmaliach suffers from severe PTSD sustained during his service in the Border Police, when he faced shootings and large Palestinian riots. He assisted in protecting the construction of the West Bank security fence during his service, which lasted from 2002 to 2012.
“Seeing them [the Americans] gives me strength,” he said. “These are people who have gotten married, have jobs and children. They can do everything.
“We have the same thoughts. We only need to look into each other’s eyes to know that we already know everything. I am sure I will keep in touch with them,” Elmaliach continued.
“When I hear them talk about what happened to them, I feel like they are telling my story.”