IDF financial help programs for soldiers face closure

Number of soldiers requesting assistance continues to climb, military’s budget faces new cuts.

Female IDF soldiers at western wall (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Female IDF soldiers at western wall
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
IDF programs that provide financial assistance to soldiers in need are at risk as the number of soldiers requesting assistance continues to climb and the military’s budget faces new cuts.
The danger to the continued financial assistance was enhanced due to a significant drop in donations to the IDF through Friends of the IDF (FIDF) and the Libi Fund, which operate mostly in the United States and Europe, senior officers from the IDF’s Manpower Directorate said this week One example is a fund that was set up a number of years ago to provide financial assistance for soldiers who come from families that do not have enough money to purchase basic necessities like a microwave, a refrigerator or a bed.
The fund is supported solely by donations and in 2010, it amounted to NIS 7 million for 5,200 soldiers in comparison to the NIS 4.5 million in 2007 that provided for 3,300 soldiers. Due to a drop in donations though, the IDF predicts that it will distribute only NIS 5 million by the end of 2011.
In general, the number of soldiers who received financial assistance from one of the IDF’s various programs has dramatically increased from 24,000 in 2007 to over 30,000 in 2010 with expectations for an additional increase by the end of 2011.
“We see a direct connection between the global economic situation and the number of soldiers who come asking for financial aid,” a senior officer from the Manpower Directorate said.
“We would like to be able to help as many soldiers as possible since we believe that a soldier who knows that his family is being cared for will ultimately be a better soldier.”
The IDF provides a number of different types of financial assistance.
One track – known by its Hebrew acronym “Tashmash,” which stands for “family payments” – amounted to NIS 104 million in 2010 in comparison to NIS 96 million in 2005.
Another NIS 68 million is allocated toward lodging for lone soldiers, who can choose between living in a kibbutz, renting their own apartment, living in an apartment provided by the IDF or living in one of the FIDF dormitories in Israel.
“If there are budget cuts, the IDF will prefer to use the money it has to buy more Iron Dome rocket defense systems than provide financial assistance for the IDF,” the officer said.
“The soldiers are relying on us and we need to make sure that we will be able to continue to help them.”