Foundation Focus

May 2024 Foundation Focus

This month, we remember the brave men and women who have given their lives to protect their countries, both here in the United States on Memorial Day and in Israel on Yom HaZikaron. However, our countries commemorate these holidays quite differently. On Memorial Day here in the States, we have pool parties and grill outs, and is regarded as the unofficial start to summer. But in Israel, the day takes on a much more somber tone, and will no doubt feel even heavier this year.

And while we can never thank those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom, we can show our gratitude to those veterans who are still with us. This month’s newsletter highlights ways in which your support can make an impact for veterans here and in Israel.

You may never have heard of it, but one of the best places in the world to be treated for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), mild traumatic brain injury, military sexual trauma, and other anxiety-related disorders is located right here in Atlanta through the Emory Healthcare Veterans Program (EHVP). This world class program offers intensive two-week outpatient treatment (IOP) with zero out-of-pocket costs for post 9/11 qualifying veterans. Free treatment is available to service members living anywhere in the United States regardless of discharge status, deployment history, or length of service.

“It’s a cliché to say we are PTSD’s best kept secret, but frankly, it’s true,” says EHVP’s founding Executive Director, Barbara Rothbaum. She is a PhD and clinical professor in psychiatry at Emory School of Medicine who began researching PTSD immediately out of graduate school when the first grants to treat the disorder became available. Dr. Rothbaum has authored over 200 scientific papers and six books on anxiety and is a pioneer in the application of virtual reality to the treatment of psychological disorders. 

Though PTSD has always been with us, it didn’t become an official medical diagnosis until 1980 in the post-Vietnam years. “PTSD is the story of King Lear, it’s the story of ‘shell shock’ in World War I veterans, and the story of trauma in rape victims,” Dr. Rothbaum says. “It is a terrible disorder to have, and terrible for loved ones. What I’ve learned through my work is that the human spirit is incredibly resilient. There is so much hope today because PTSD treatment really is effective.”

The program at EHVP treats PTSD using exposure therapy — directly facing a feared object, situation, or activity in real life. This method recognizes that fear is a normal response to trauma but understands that some people will do everything they can (including substance abuse) to avoid their pain. “When the fear does not extinguish, the disorder festers, often resulting in PTSD,” explains Dr. Rothbaum. “We believe that  people need to emotionally process what happened to them. We make them confront the pain.” 

Under Dr. Rothbaum’s leadership, EHVP is recognized as an innovator in PTSD treatment. In 1995 Dr. Rothbaum published the first paper on using virtual reality to treat veterans. In the Emory program, virtual scenes of conflict in Vietnam and Afghanistan help patients visually and viscerally confront their past trauma. Today this technology is used widely, and just recently, EHVP had a manual translated into Hebrew for trauma victims of Hamas’ October 7 attack and has published a self-help book called Making Meaning of Difficult Experiences.

“As a practitioner I often feel like I hold someone’s heart in my hand. It’s so rewarding when they get better. We hear from our patients and their families that the program is transformative. One spouse told us, ‘I felt like I got my husband back, and our daughters say they got their dad back.’ 

EHVP is funded entirely by grants and private philanthropy. The program also is committed to training the next generation of mental health care providers and has trained more than 60 postdoctoral students, practicum students, psychiatry residents, preceptors, and social work interns.

Please consider making a a gift to EHVP via your donor-advised fund. 

Brothers for Life Brothers for Life is a non-profit organization created and run by injured Israeli veterans, which gives critical and immediate help to other injured Israeli combat veterans who sacrificed their lives for the safety of the Jewish people. Their mission is to empower injured combat soldiers to help recently injured combat soldiers reclaim their lives, fulfill their dreams, and continue to serve and inspire the Jewish nation.

Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America The Jewish War Veterans (JWV) is the premier voice for Jewish uniformed service members and veterans in the United States. The JWV affirms that Jewish men and women serve honorably and heroically in the military forces of the United States of America during peacetime and war.  The JWV defends the rights and benefits of all service members and veterans, fights anti-Semitism, and supports the State of Israel.

Foundation for Women Warriors Foundation for Women Warriors is on a mission to serve women veterans and their children so that their next mission is clear and continues to impact the world. Their programs enhance the personal and economic wellbeing of women veterans and address the growing needs of the increasing population of military women transitioning to civilian life.

Friends of the IDF (FIDF)  Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) is a non-political, non-military organization that provides for wellbeing of the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), veterans and family members. Established in 1981 by a group of Holocaust survivors, FIDF is a 501c3 not-for-profit corporation that operates 24 Chapters in the United States with headquarters in New York City. 

J-CREN Spring Event – Legends and Leaders in Commercial Real Estate: A Panel Discussion Moderated by David Birnbrey

Tuesday, May 14 | 5:30 pm – 7 pm | JLL

REGISTER HERE

Business And Professionals Breakfast Series – The State Of The City: Examining Atlanta’s Past, Present & Future

Monday, May 20 | 7:00 am – 9:00 am | The Selig Center, Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta

You are invited to join the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta’s Business and Professionals networking breakfast and program about the state of the city as Rabbi Peter Berg engages Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens in conversation. Rabbi Berg and Mayor Dickens will discuss Atlanta’s past, present, and the mayor’s vision for the future of the city.

REGISTER HERE

Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta Annual Meeting

Monday, June 3 | 6:30 pm – 9 pm | Temple Sinai

Federation invites you as we celebrate our community, looking at what we have accomplished and what lies ahead for our Atlanta Jewish community. Join us at our 118th Annual Meeting as we honor 2024 Lifetime of Achievement award winner Jack Halpern.

REGISTER HERE