Former IDF officer comes to USC as visiting scholar

The School of Social Work’s Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans and Military Families (CIR) has welcomed visiting scholar Eyal Fruchter for the next year. Fruchter, former head of the mental health department of the Israeli Defense Force, will teach about and research post-traumatic stress disorder and related topics.

The CIR is a new, innovative research center at USC.

“It is a center that is housed in the USC School of Social Work that aims to help the transition of veterans and families into the community,” said Claudia Bustamante, a spokeswoman for CIR. “We do that through innovative research, educational training, community global engagement … [and] building partnerships with other leaders in the area.”

The CIR, which was founded in 2009 and has grown “tremendously” in its five years according to Bustamante, does research on a multitude of contemporary military issues, including how service affects sexual functioning and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Fruchter, who has had significant exposure to the world of military health, explained how his experience relates to the interests of CIR.

“I am a psychiatrist by profession, and I worked in the Israeli Defense Force first as a military doctor and then as a psychiatrist, and until two months ago I was the head of the mental health division of the IDF,” Fruchter said. “We did a lot of work on post-traumatic stress disorder and its ramifications … So, for the last several years I’ve been working on PTSD, both its prevention and treatment.”

Fruchter said that factors as simple as the length of a soldier’s tour can drastically increase his or her chances for suffering from the illness.

“We have much fewer cases of PTSD in the IDF [than in the US] … due to several factors, but the main one is probably the length of the mission,” Fruchter said.

Mandatory military service as required by the Israeli government also plays a role in reducing PTSD, noted Fruchter.

“I didn’t have to change anything in the way that I coped, and everybody knew what I was talking about,” said Fruchter about his ability to express himself healthily to his friends and family.

Fruchter said that this is different than the American military, where soldiers often know little about the areas where they are stationed, or know of other people who have gone through the same struggles in the service.

“American soldiers come from homes where some of them [don’t] know what’s going on [in] the theater and they’re gone for a year … you learn to cope alone, and when you come back home nobody knows what you’ve been through,” Fruchter said. “It’s very hard for people from the outside to understand what you’ve been through.”

Fruchter believes that this tension between the expectations and realities for soldiers returning from duty is one of the main causes of PTSD.

“Your friends expect you to be the friend that they had … [but] people have a very hard time adjusting to being sent away and then again to come back … that I believe is the core problem causing war post-traumatic stress disorder,” he said.

But Fruchter thinks that the work he and the center are doing can help.

“I believe that if we manage to bring in the research that I want to do this year with connection to the IDF [that] we will find several ways that will be most helpful in presenting PTSD and treating it … We’ve progressed quite a bit in several aspects but now we need to see clinically working.”



4 replies
  1. Steven
    Steven says:

    William makes a point I hadn’t considered, although I’m also curious about the questions raised by this program in taking on a former IDF officer regarding WHO suffers from post-traumatic stress. While our conversations on post-traumatic stress tends to revolve around how it affects soldiers, I hear relatively little about work being done in the US on the problem of post-traumatic stress among the civilian populations living in the countries which these soldiers have been sent to occupy. I’d love to hear someone contradict me, that this program is interested in the problem of post-traumatic stress more widely, but I’m worried that their hiring of Eyal Fruchter signals their commitment to humanizing the soldier while largely ignoring those populations terrorized by US and Israeli militaries.

    • Arafat
      Arafat says:

      Steven, No one is more guilty of terrorizing those populations that its own people.

      The following was written by a Muslim apostate:

      So, the question now is that who is the real enemy of the
      Arab world?

      The Arab world wasted hundreds of billions of dollars and
      lost tens of thousands of innocent lives fighting Israel, which they considered
      is their sworn enemy, an enemy whose existence they never recognized. The Arab
      world has many enemies and Israel should have been at the bottom of the list.

      The real enemies of the Arab world are corruption, lack of
      good education, lack of good health care, lack of freedom, lack of respect for
      the human lives and finally, the Arab world had many dictators who used the
      Arab-Israeli conflict to suppress their own people. These dictators’ atrocities against their own
      people are far worse than all the full-scale Arab-Israeli wars.

      In the past, we have talked about why some Israeli soldiers
      attack and mistreat Palestinians. Also, we saw Israeli planes and tanks attack
      various Arab countries. But, do these attacks match the current atrocities
      being committed by some Arab states against their own people. In Syria, the atrocities are beyond anybody’s
      imaginations? And, isn’t the Iraqis are the ones who are destroying their own
      country? Wasn’t it Tunisia’s dictator who was able to steal 13 billion dollars
      from the poor Tunisians? And how can a child starve in Yemen if their land is
      the most fertile land in the world? Why would Iraqi brains leave Iraq in a
      country that makes 110 billion dollars from oil export? Why do the Lebanese
      fail to govern one of the tiniest countries in the world?

      And what made the Arab states start sinking into chaos? Their backward-looking and barbaric religion.

  2. William Buttrey
    William Buttrey says:

    I’d be curious if those IDF soldiers who are part of “Breaking the Silence” or other ‘refuseniks’ are treated with regard to a mental health issue or one of insubordination by the chain of command.

    • Arafat
      Arafat says:

      While Muslims in Syria kill women, children, elderly indiscriminately – up to 40,000 people and counting – we devote our anger on Israel for we are anti-Semites in sheep’s clothing.

      While Muslims have killed up to one million in Sudan, and counting, we devote our anger on Israel for we are really just anti-Semites pretending we are humanitarians.

      While Muslims in Mali have forced 500,000 (and counting) people into refugee status – as they have done in the past year – we devote our anger on Israel for we are anti-Semites pretending to be for social justice.

      While Muslims kill off what remains of the ancient Hindu population in-and-around Pakistan we devote our anger on Israel for we are like the Germans during the 1930s – people who needed a convenient scapegoat to escape their own feelings of frustration.

      While Muslims have wiped out all the Buddhists from their ancient homeland in Afghanistan we devote our anger on Israel for it’s easy to pick on Jews and we are shameless hypocrites engaging in man’s oldest prejudice, anti-Semitism, while pretending to be holier-than-thou.

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