Israeli first responders and service members have responded to hundreds of attacks against Israel’s citizens over many years. On Monday, Dec. 5, Shin Bet (the Israel Security Agency) reported 196 attacks in November, 401 in October, 254 in September and 209 in August.
The Israelis have gained a lot of experience dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and have worked on ways to become more resilient in their efforts to cope with that stress and trauma. Now the Illinois National Guard is benefitting from the Israel’s experience in building resilience.
Instructors from NATAL, the Israel Trauma and Resiliency Center, brought resiliency training to the Illinois National Guard as a U.S. pilot course called Operational Stress Management and Resiliency Care for First Responders. The course ran from Nov. 29 to Dec. 2 at Camp Lincoln, Springfield, followed by another week of teleconference training. The Illinois National Guard received a grant as part of a Congressional add that funds the Warrior Resilience and Fitness Innovation Incubator Program. Illinois’ proposal was one of nine programs in the nation selected to receive grant funds as a pilot program.
Illinois is one of three states whose National Guard has a formal training relationship with Israel. The Israeli Consulate in Chicago contacted the Illinois National Guard about two years ago, explaining the course and asked if the Illinois National Guard would be interested.
“This is a very unique opportunity we have,” said Maj. Gen. Rich Neely, the Adjutant General of Illinois and Commander of the Illinois National Guard. “This is an opportunity for us to really look at resiliency training for first responders. Israel has a good track record, especially during COVID, of this type of training.”
Neely told the 36 attendees, representing both Army and Air Guard units and Wings, when he first enlisted in the Army National Guard, the coping process was ‘suck it up.’ He said that mindset must change.
“As leaders, we must understand the complexity of the situation,” Neely said. “The holidays are a time that resonates for all of us. Chaplains remind us you may be having a great time, but there are others in the formation who may be hurting. Each of us must be aware of not only ourselves, but those around us, not just someone junior to you, but your boss and your peers as well.”