I am happy that I can continue to help other disabled veterans and I am truly grateful for all that Beit Halochem has given me and contributed so much to my personal growth, allowing me to reinvent myself since my injury and make my dreams a reality.Dotan Meishar
My name is Dotan Meishar
I’m 51 years old, father of three sons. I grew up in a kibbutz in the shores of the Sea of Galilee. I remember my youth as a very happy time, spending hours hiking in nature and long runs in the valley fields. At the age of 21, during my service in the Naval Commando unit I lost my right leg. All my life was suddenly turned upside down in a second – from a young, strong guy, a fighter soldier serving in one of the most elite combat units in the IDF, I became disabled. I was a person with a strong mental resilience, feeling I was capable of doing everything – and then, on long journeys I would ask myself if I would ever be able to do the most simple things; if I would be able to walk a few steps at all. Under this new situation, I realized I had two choices: A. to think that my life is over, to cry over my bitter fate and live a long and tormented life with a sense of sacrifice asking “how and why did this happen to me?”; or B. Find a way to move on to another life. A full, meaningful and happy life.
The first option was not an option at all for me. I remember that after I started processing my new condition, I did not allow myself to sink into depression for one moment. I chose the second option – I was reborn after I was so close to losing my life.
After spending a year in hospitals
, I arrived to Beit Halochem Tel Aviv, which was the most important place in my physical and mental rehabilitation process. Beit Halochem quickly became a second home for me, where I met disabled people in my situation, I drew energy and was inspired by them, which enabled me to live a full and happy life even without a leg. Practicing sports has been a significant component of my rehabilitation. Very quickly, I started practicing powerlifting. The connection was very natural because it bolstered my strengths and the loss of a leg had no meaning. Soon enough the sport became from rehabilitative to competitive. Just two years after the injury I participated in the Paralympic Games in Barcelona in 1992 and later in Atlanta in 1996. The future was rosy and the goal was a medal at the next Olympics. However, I exhausted powerlifting and was not willing to go on just for a medal when I did not have enough passion and love for what I was doing. The reason for the change was wheelchair basketball. I discovered a most powerful and attractive sports discipline, in contrast to what I had ever imagined.
the Israeli national wheelchair basketball team
I have been playing for the Israeli national wheelchair basketball team since 1999 until today, despite my adult age. and participated in 11 European Championships, two World Championships and won sixth place at the Beijing Olympic Games. In addition, I participated in dozens of official Euroleague tournaments in Europe as a member of the Beit Halochem wheelchair basketball team. In 2005, I also started coaching in the Beit Halochem centers, to give the young generation of veterans the motivation, love for the game, and reveal to them a magical world that is very different from what it seems. Unfortunately, in Israel, many soldiers like me became disabled veterans at a young age. Beit Halochem centers are well skilled and experienced and know how to meet the needs of people who at a young age found themselves in such a difficult and complex situation. Beit Halochem is a warm safe place, a real second home; it gives us a sense of belonging where disabled veterans are not alone; they always have someone to talk to and share, get inspiration from the veterans about resilience and mental power, to live a healthy life in body and mind.
For me, sports played a major and most significant role in my rehabilitation process; it allowed me to fulfill dreams that contributed greatly to my sense of satisfaction and self-confidence. I am proud to see that my life journey, my attitude to life and achievements in sports have become a source of inspiration for young people. I am happy that I can continue to help other disabled veterans and I am truly grateful for all that Beit Halochem has given me and contributed so much to my personal growth, allowing me to reinvent myself since my injury and make my dreams a reality.