ZAHAL DISABLED VETERANS
In an interview with YNET News, marking PTSD Awareness Month, Amit Steinhart, PTSD-disabled veteran, tells about how he copes with the challenges of the invisible injury that changed his life: “It is very difficult to be in crowded places, with strangers, and above all, to go out of the house.”
Amit Steinhart, who was gravely injured during a close-range shooting attack near the settlement of Har Hadar in 2017, talks about that “invisible injury” – the post-trauma that he carries with him since that day.
“Post-traumatic do not normally show physical symptoms – and if they do – they are usually unnoticeable”, says Steinhart. He further explains: “Post-trauma is characterized by mental strains, not physical. In my case, I experience great difficulties being in crowded places, with strangers, and in general when I need to leave the house. My injury is both physical and mental – so, unfortunately, I must face both worlds. My physical injuries are not visible on the outside. When I stand, no one can notice I am an IDF disabled veteran or disabled at all; but then I roll up my shirt, they see my scars and the real story is revealed.”
The attack that changed his life occurred in September 2017. Steinhart, then the military security coordinator of Har Hadar, was severely injured after a Palestinian terrorist from the village of Beit Surik came to the gate and shot dead Border Policeman Staff Sergeant Solomon Gavriya and two security guards, Yousef Ottman and Or Arish. “I was seriously injured during the shooting. Three of my friends were fatally wounded and died at the scene”, recounts Steinhart. “Eventually, after a short gunfight, we managed to kill the terrorist. As a result, I knew then that my life had changed completely.”
“I knew the terrorist well – we even had coffee together two weeks before the incident; he worked for 17 years for my boss, everyone knew him”, adds Steinhart.
“I almost died; I was bleeding heavily, and the quick response from Magen David Adom was the light that saved my life”, he says. “When I recovered from surgery, I realized that beyond the physical wounds, my soul and mind weren’t quite the same. It was very hard for me to deal with the presence of the doctors who came in to check me; I always needed to have someone with a familiar face next to me, and even then, I couldn’t bear to be touched. It had to do with the soul – I was injured in such a painful and delusive way, it happened so fast, that in the course of it my soul also got injured.”
In response to the question whether the government and other organizations are filling their duty effectively with regard to the PTSD phenomenon:
According to Steinhart, “the attention given by the government and the political establishment to PTSD victims is greatly appreciated”; however he claims that “there is much more to be done. My case was well recognized and quite expected – the doctors predicted I would suffer from post-trauma even before I knew what it was.”
“I must highlight and praise the wonderful work done by the Ministry of Defense and in particular the Zahal Disabled Veterans Organization – they are always there for us, they care about us, and they support us in every possible way, above and beyond; and of course, professional experts such as the AHIAD group [of Beit Halochem], established by Uri Ehrenfeld. Ahiad is a group of people, who help PTSD veterans, like me – they all understand and feel what we go through. Ahiad is a warm house for us. There, we embrace and hug each other; we share our feelings, the trauma – they provide us the supportive environment to enable us reduce and cope with the burden of PTSD. Uri does so much for us – he organizes activities, field trips – every week we have a different program.”
Today, he concludes, “I stand on my own feet thanks to them.”