Lifeline for American Soldiers Is Made in Israel

Suicide Call Center Starts With Simplest Question

Fatigue in Fatigues: Long deployments contribute to difficult reentry for U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Getty Images
Fatigue in Fatigues: Long deployments contribute to difficult reentry for U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq.

By Jared T. Miller

Published March 04, 2014, issue of March 07, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

In her work with Israeli military veterans and victims of trauma, Sigal Haimov asks a lot of sensitive questions.

But over a lengthy career as a mental health professional, she’s found that it’s one of the easiest questions to ask that’s trickiest for Americans to answer genuinely: “How are you doing?”

“You” — that is, Americans — “ask each other ‘How are you doing?’ whenever you see someone you don’t even know,” said Haimov, director of the telephone-based help line at NATAL, an Israeli trauma center.

On the other hand, “When [Israelis] ask you how you’re doing, we expect you to answer — and not just say, ‘Fine, thank you.’”

There’s a lot to be learned from the Israeli response — one of many reasons the Wounded Warrior Project reached out to Haimov and her organization a year and a half ago, to establish a telephone help line for American veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder and suicidal thoughts. The Wounded Warrior Project’s mission is to “honor and empower” veterans, and it does so through its 19 different programs, including physical therapy, peer mentoring and job skills and placement assistance — and now, over the phone with a help line.

Haimov is a major force in setting up the service — named WWP Talk — based on her experience setting up and running NATAL’s own help line for the past 16 years. Instead of serving solely as a crisis intervention line, where caller-to-counselor relationships usually end when the phone is hung up, the NATAL method focuses instead on strengthening that initial relationship, and providing assistance beyond suicide prevention. Over the past year, she has traveled back and forth from Israel to Jacksonville, Fla., helping to train the WWP Talk’s first few cohorts of volunteers.

“We don’t do anything at the Wounded Warrior Project that we can’t be the best at,” says Dave Ward, who oversees WWP Talk as well as other mental health services at the organization. “NATAL are the experts, specifically with this help line model.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • Before there was 'Homeland,' there was 'Prisoners of War.' And before there was Claire Danes, there was Adi Ezroni. Share this with 'Homeland' fans!
  • BREAKING: Was an Israeli soldier just kidnapped in Gaza? Hamas' military wing says yes.
  • What's a "telegenically dead" Palestinian?
  • 13 Israeli soldiers die in Gaza — the deadliest day for the IDF in decades. So much for 'precision' strikes and easy exit strategies.
  • What do a Southern staple like okra and an Israeli favorite like tahini have in common? New Orleans chef Alon Shaya brings sabra tastes to the Big Easy.
  • The Cossacks were a feature in every European Jewish kid's worst nightmare. Tuvia Tenenbom went looking for the real-life variety in Ukraine — but you won't believe what he found. http://forward.com/articles/202181/my-hunt-for-the-cossacks-in-ukraine/?
  • French Jews were stunned when an anti-Israel mob besieged a synagogue outside Paris. What happened next could be a historic turning point.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.