American War Veterans Delegation
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Dr. Alex Grobman
Phone: (212) 213-8630
New York, October 5, 2011: In September, the America-Israel Friendship League, in conjunction with the Fort Lee, NJ-based Heroes to Heroes organization, led a delegation of wounded American servicemen to Israel, where these American veterans of the current conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan were introduced to Israeli soldiers who had also suffered injuries in the course of duty.
The goal was not only for US Veterans to see firsthand how wounded Israeli soldiers are treated by their countrymen, but also to establish bonds based on the commonality of their experiences.
“The American and Israeli war veterans who participated in this program sustained their wounds while fighting for freedom and against terrorism. This provided a basis for their bonding which grew during the ten days they were together,” said Kenneth Bialkin, chairman of the AIFL.
Heroes to Heroes, founded by Judy Isaacson Schaffer of Teaneck, is dedicated to helping American disabled veterans bridge the gap between their military experience and civilian life.
As a result of this trip to Israel, the wounded American GIs, none of whom is Jewish, formed lasting friendships with wounded Israeli soldiers and, at the same time, gained an appreciation of the kindness and expertise with which the disabled are treated in the Jewish state.
“America’s wounded GIs including two female soldiers put themselves in harm’s way for us, and, on this trip to Israel, the veterans had the chance to see for themselves the warmth, care, and love all Israelis have not only for their own wounded soldiers, but for those who were wounded fighting for America as well,” said Mr. Bialkin.
Mr. Bialkin thanked Harley Lippman, president of AIFL, for finding a donor to sponsor the mission and then accompanying the delegation himself.
Together, AIFL and Heroes to Heroes sought to provide the visiting American wounded veterans with an experience available only in Israel: education on living with terrorism and understanding the importance of keeping terrorism from domestic borders; an exploration of Christian and Jewish holy sites; visits to Israeli facilities available to disabled veterans; and meetings with Israeli veterans who, despite their injuries, have been able to turn their professional and personal dreams into reality.
Since their return home, many of the participating American and Israeli wounded veterans have stayed in touch, helping one another and offering each other strength and encouragement.
Each year, the AIFL sends delegations of Americans on missions to Israel with the goal of fostering strong personal and professional bonds of friendship between citizens of both countries.
Because of the response to the mission, AIFL intends to plan future similar missions subject to available funding.
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