The Art of Strengths Coaching

W is for Jerry White: Survivor Corps And Steps To Overcoming Life Crises

At the time of writing Jerry White is Deputy Assistant Secretary in the United States Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations. Jerry was twenty years old when he lost a leg to a landmine whilst hiking in Israel.

He responded by choosing to help individuals to overcome setbacks and also work for non-proliferation and peace around the world. His work with the International Campaign to Ban Landmines led to him sharing the 1997 Nobel Prize for Peace.

Jerry was made an Ashoka Fellow in 2009. Below are excerpts from the Ashoka website. This mainly focuses on his work developing Survivor Corp, which he co-founded with Ken Rutherford.

As a result of the work that Survivor Corp did, particularly in training people locally, the organisation has since successfully passed the baton to people on the ground. You can discover more via the following links.

Survivor Corp

Jerry White is creating a victim-free world by transforming passive victims into active survivors and leaders.

Jerry’s Survivor Corps, a worldwide peer-to-peer support network, gives conflict survivors the tools they need to become leaders in their communities.

By transforming survivors’ perceptions of themselves, Jerry is able to change global societal attitudes towards the role of conflict survivors in the prevention of violent conflict.

Jerry has also played a global leadership role in giving survivors a voice on the world stage by bringing them to the table with other CSOs and international bodies, such as the United Nations, to fight for survivor rights and violence reduction.

Jerry’s Landmine Survivors Network (LSN) was an instrumental organizer of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), for which Jerry was a co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997.

Since then, Survivor Corps has led other CSOs in the effort to pass the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2008) – an effort to end discrimination and provide equal opportunity to 650 million people with disabilities globally – and then the Convention on Cluster Munitions (2008) – designed to phase out the use of cluster bombs due to the disproportionate harm they cause civilians.

Survivors As Leaders

One of the founding ideals of Survivor Corps is that no one is better equipped to break cycles of violence than those who have survived war.

By preventing the tendency to be victimized by a terrible event, Survivor Corps is creating a culture which fundamentally promotes capabilities, rights and reconciliation over apathy, surrender and antipathy.

The Survivor Corps strategy … transforms victims into survivors and leaders.

A victim is someone living in the past, floating in self-pity, resentful of their situation and others, and constantly demanding of society – preventing this perhaps natural tendency is a major challenge.


To exterminate these “ghosts,” Survivor Corps ingrains five core ideas into its network of survivors.

First, they must Face Facts, accept the harsh – often permanent – reality about suffering and loss, however brutal it may be.

Secondly, they must Choose Life, rejecting death and letting go of resentments.

Reaching Out is the third step, finding peers, friends, and family to break the isolation and loneliness that comes in the aftermath of a crisis. It is critical to seek empathy rather than pity from the outside world.

Next, the survivor must Get Moving, get out of the house, out of the solitude.

Lastly, they must Give Back. Thriving in their new reality requires the capacity to give again and again through acts of service and kindness.

Below is a longer interview that Jerry gave for the IMD business school. You can discover more about the school via the following link.

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