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!
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • 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.