I recently returned from 10 days in Israel…again! This time it was a much different experience. I went on a journey with the organization Heroes to Heroes, last year I attended as a participant. I absolutely loved the journey as well as saw firsthand how it impacts lives. I was in contact with the organizations founder and was blessed with her trust in me to attend this year’s journey as a coach/mentor. The founder, Judy Schaffer left her job in the corporate world to help veterans. She has created a phenomenal journey that changes lives.
The Journey begins before we even leave the United States. 10-12 participants are chosen and added to a private group on Facebook. During the weeks leading up to the journey, the participants get to know one another as much as possible via the group. Once we all arrive in Newark, we see the relationships form as the ladies get to know one another and realize they have so much in common. The veteran bond is so strong. Once in country the journey as well as the healing begins. Daily we would see one after another veteran transform spiritually and emotionally all while developing bonds and physically pushing themselves. During the Journey Israeli Defense Forces soldiers also went on the journey with us. This creates a whole different bond. Their lives changed in other ways from this experience. I won’t give too much away about the journey because I want you to experience it firsthand.
What I will say is that my experience as a coach was amazing, it itself helped me grow. Living as a female veteran in a society that doesn’t understand why we respond the way we do or why we even served in the first place is challenging. Seeing the strength of these women to take that step to admit they have depression or family problems and move forward to live life is all I need to see to believe. I saw 10 of the strongest and bravest women I have seen, they stepped out of their comfort zones and let others in. We will continue our journey over the next few years by keeping in touch and maybe reconnecting with a project to help others.
Pay it forward. There are so many “veteran” organizations out there, but not many that serve women. I felt it was important to stress the gratitude to Heroes to Heroes for continuing to serve women but also to show the impact. Heroes to Heroes saves lives and for that I will forever be in debt to this organization. Please check out the site: Heroestoheroes.org apply if you qualify and pass it on to anyone who does qualify.
Jackie Kirkwood, GySgt USMC Retired