When Harry met Zahava

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TAU expert on post-military combat trauma, Prof. Zahava Solomon, speaks at the Veterans’ Mental Health Conference in London

TAU’s Prof. Zahava Solomon discussed issues relating to the long term trauma of military combatants with HRM Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, at the 2019 Veterans’ Mental Health Conference held at King’s College London. Prof. Solomon was one of a select number of international experts on trauma who presented at the conference. The participants’ goal was to share ideas about how best to support the psychological wellbeing of former military personnel.

The Duke, who served two tours in Afghanistan, discussed the long-term effects of military service with several speakers, praising their work. He is a regular champion of mental health advocacy through his work with the Royal Foundation’s ‘Heads Together’ project, which aims to promote a national conversation on the topic.

Solomon spoke with Prince Harry about the findings of her study that she presented and mainly about the psychological effects of participating in combat – not only on the mental health of the combatants themselves but also on their families. The Prince expressed great interest and concern for the safety of soldiers.

Prof. Zahava Solomon​

“I expressed my appreciation and admiration in the name of mental health professionals inIsrael for his involvement and sensitivity, both because of his social standing and also because of his past as a combatant,” said Solomon, an Israel Prize laureate and a retired Lieutenant-Colonel in the Israel Defense Forces. “He said he could relate to the challenges based on his own experience. For someone in his position to come forward and say it’s quite normal to be traumatized, is really beneficial.”​

​In an interview with Forces TV, Solomon said: “For many veterans, the war starts when the shooting stops. Even 20 years after the war, we have actually observed the trauma – both psychological and physical – being suffered by the traumatized combatants. And on top of that, there are individuals who did not initially succumb to stress on the battlefield, but later on, over a period of 20 years, have actually developed late onset post-traumatic stress disorder.”

Prof. Solomon heads the I-CORE Research Center for Mass Trauma at Tel Aviv University. Formerly, she held roles as Head of Research in Mental Health in the IDF Medical Corps, Head of TAU’s Bob Shapell School of Social Work, and Head of TAU’s Adler Research Center for Child Welfare and Protection. She has published over 400 academic articles and seven books. Her studies of trauma among combat veterans, prisoners of war and Holocaust survivors spans over four decades and are unparalleled in scope, depth and breath. Her work helps shape the psychosocial treatment and rehabilitation of traumatized soldiers and their families.

Featured image: Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex discusses post-military combat trauma. Credit: Daniel Leightley/Dan Dyball

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