I am combining these days since, aside from touring, we began to say goodbye.
We spent time with soldiers on their bases in the Golan. We arrived with gifts of shampoo, cookies, snacks, Heroes to Heroes coins and pins, and smiles to greet the exhausted soldiers. We looked down on Kunetra and small villages and towns in Syria. We could see a smoke trail of a bomb near Kunetra. The fight is so close to the Israeli border.
Tree planting was an emotional experience. Leaving a piece of themselves in the land – in honor and in memory of friends and loved ones, gave each team member a source of pride and closure.
After much traveling and visits to the Golan Heights, Nazreth, and Ceasarea, we headed to Tel Aviv. Time was spent with Israeli participants of past trips and there was time on the beach to reflect and begin to prepare for the journey home.
A highlight was visiting Beit Halochem, the “Home of the Warrior”. Beit Halochem was conceived and is run by wounded Israeli veterans. It’s basically a country club for wounded veterans, offering everything from art to sports to therapy. Open each day from 6am-12mid, no veteran needs to be alone.
The following are final thoughts from some of our participants:
“Coming to Israel and being a team member with Heroes to Heroes fulfilled many life long desires such as being baptized and praying at the Western Wall. Hearing real life accounts of survival and how people deal with the constant threat of war…they are determined and their sense of purpose is absolute, in both their hearts and minds. Gives me hope for a better future.” (Greg, Tennessee)
“Amazing! Israel is a beautiful country. I feel more spiritual here than I have ever felt. This trip has helped me connect with God. The people have received us with open arms.” (Peter, Laredo TX)
“I had hope and uncertainty of the unknown. I was received by love and friendship by all my American vets and ambassadors. It was the same when I arrived in Israel. Beautiful people and country. Thanks to God for this trip of my life. Thanks to Judy for making this happen.” (Wiston, New Jersey)
“Bond to a common goal, motivated me to come. Self healing from PTSD is a process. The trip has opened my eyes and my heart that we are not alone in this fight with traumatic events. Brotherhood towards one cause and one fight. This trip has been very therapeutic.” (Isaac, Bronx, NY)