IAJF-NY Supports Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Resilience-Training Program for Soldiers
Spotlight on Philanthropy: The Iranian American Jewish Federation of New York supports research program in PTSD
Thanks to a generous gift from The Iranian American Jewish Federation of New York (IAJF-NY), researchers are one step closer to instituting a resilience-training program that may reduce the high incidence of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in combat soldiers. Between 6 and 8 percent of all Israeli Defense Force (IDF) infantry soldiers develop debilitating PTSD symptoms, such as hyperarousal, intrusive flashbacks, and depression, during their first deployment cycle.
For the past five years, the Department of Psychiatry at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and The School of Psychological Sciences at Tel Aviv University, have been working together to develop a resilience-training program to help prevent combat-related PTSD. The program consists of four to eight computerized training sessions that soldiers would complete in the barracks as part of their basic training program. Now, as part of the IAJF-NY’s gift, researchers will be able to test the efficacy of this training program in soldiers starting this fall.
“We are extremely grateful to the IAJF-NY for recognizing this pressing need in the Israeli military and allowing us to test this critical resilience tool,” says Dennis Charney, MD, the Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Dean of Mount Sinai School of Medicine and executive Vice President for Academic Affairs of The Mount Sinai Medical Center. “Our hope is that the impact of this project will reach far beyond Israeli military and civilians, and that we will be able to apply what we learn to US troops, as well as anyone who is exposed to severe psychological trauma.”
The efficacy study will consist of a double-blind randomized controlled trial of 600 IDF infantry soldiers. The computerized training program will be delivered to the first group of 300 soldiers in November 2012. The soldiers will be followed-up for six months after training to evaluate outcomes during combat deployment.
“The protocol we have developed is designed to normalize deviant thought processes in soldiers before they are deployed,” explains Yair Bar-Haim, PhD, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience and Head of the School of Psychological Sciences at Tel Aviv University. “This should increase mental resilience in combat and, ultimately, reduce the incidence of PTSD.” The project is being completed in collaboration with the IDF’s Department of Mental Health; approved by the IDF’s Ethics Committee; facilitated by Colonel Eyal Fruchter, MD, Commander of the IDF’s Department of Mental Health, Medical Corps; and endorsed by IDF infantry commanders on the ground.