On the evening of Oct. 22, Trojans for Israel (TFI) — the USC student group dedicated to spreading awareness of the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship — hosted its annual dinner gala. This year’s event was dedicated to creating a dialogue about American-Israeli partnerships and research on keeping servicemen healthy and emotionally stable on and off the battlefield.
The United States and Israel routinely hold joint training exercises, so each country can learn and benefit from the advancements of the other. The conversation at TFI’s event was aimed at demonstrating the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship not only for the training, but also for researching and furthering medical and support opportunities to ensure mental health after battlefield experience. Judah Joseph, TFI’s President, noted that, “The relationship is far more than a strategic and economic relationship — this relationship will reap rewards that will touch and benefit soldiers across the world, no matter their nationality or creed.”
Keynoting the event were Col. Dr. Eyal Fruchter, an Israeli national and visiting professor to the USC School of Social Work, and Michael Johnson, President of the USC Veterans Association. The two, who both have experience on the battlefield, agreed upon the critical importance of the work being done to ensure soldiers’ mental health, especially after they return to civilian life. Fruchter, the former head of the Mental Health Division in the Israeli Medical Corps, is spending his year at USC researching post-traumatic stress disorder, mental health resiliency and leadership.
The topic of veterans’ care is one with a specific resonance for USC: in 2009, USC became the first major research institution to offer a military social work specialization. Because of the importance of this work, the USC School of Social Work has already made an international, multi-faceted approach to the issues concerning mental health in the military. The School of Social Work has teamed up with international colleagues, including those from the United Kingdom, Canada and Israel. Bringing Fruchter to USC underlines the importance of the work done for the benefit of servicemen across the world.
Though American and Israeli soldiers wear different uniforms, the problems they both face are universal. Michael Johnson highlighted this key point while speaking about the PTSD he sees in his fellow servicemen.
In this politically-charged climate, it is often easy to forget that Israel is more than just a player in Middle Eastern politics. Its technical and medical innovations have had practical, long-term results for people all over the world, including here in the United States. When energies are focused at working together rather than dividing, real work with long-term implications can be accomplished. Improving the wellness of servicemen everywhere goes beyond political strife.
When the American Studies Association — an American organization dedicated to the study of American history and culture — decided to boycott Israel’s academic institutions, the American Psychological Association responded by unequivocally stating, “Any attack on institutions of higher learning and individual scientists, academics, and researchers based on political policy halts academic freedoms and negatively affects the vital role research plays for our patients and profession.”
The crucial work being done by Dr. Fruchter is merely one example of the benefits of a strong relationship between Israel and the United States. Because this relationship is strong enough to create opportunities such as his residence here, we all can reap the rewards. As another attendee, sophomore sociology major Tiffany Yadegar, noted, “Coming to this dinner really convinced me of the importance of maintaining the U.S.-Israeli relationship.”
Trojans for Israel