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You Can Run, But You Can’t Hide From PTSD

Updated: Jul 20, 2023

In 1998, Lieutenant Colonel Avi Shachar shocked the Israeli intelligence community by abruptly leaving without explanation. Years later, he is opening up about the discovery that led to his decision to walk away from a prestigious 17-year career in the military: post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).


Avi began his service in the Israeli military intelligence corps in 1981. Shortly after, the First Lebanon War broke out. He quickly rose through the ranks and found himself stationed in southern Lebanon. Eventually, the ongoing conflict and the loss of several fellow soldiers took a toll on his mental health.


At the time that Avi was serving, PTSD was almost unheard of in Israel. Today, the landscape has dramatically changed, with Israel leading the way in cutting-edge PTSD research and world-class psycho-trauma centers. At the same time, cultural and bureaucratic barriers remain in Israel that are preventing thousands of soldiers and veterans from receiving proper treatment.


Avi’s story provides insights into the complex intersection between mental health and stigma in the security community—not just for Israel, but for other countries as well. His hope is that by publicly sharing his journey he will inspire other soldiers to step out of hiding and seek treatment.



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About Jessica Lauren Walton: Jessica is a communications strategist, video producer, and writer in the U.S. defense sector. She has written articles on a range of security and mental health topics and conducted interviews with military leadership, CIA officers, law enforcement, psychologists, filmmakers, and more. Jessica recently completed her memoir about her experience as an American woman struggling with mental illness while trying to get into Israeli intelligence.


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