HAPPY LONE SOLDIERS at Thursday’s ‘Yom Siddurim’ event sponsored by Nefesh B’Nefesh and Friends of the IDF..
(photo credit: SHAHAR AZRAN)
Legislation raising the salaries of lone soldiers by tying them to the consumer price index passed a preliminary reading in the Knesset on Wednesday.
Lone soldiers are IDF soldiers whose parents are unable to provide them with any support, 75 to 80 percent because they immigrated to Israel alone, and the rest for other socioeconomic reasons. They receive extra pay from the IDF to cover basic needs, such as food and rent.
MK Michael Oren (Kulanu), who was a lone soldier after moving to Israel in 1979, proposed the bill following a decade in which their extra pay was not increased.
In the years 2005-2013, food prices went up 13.5% and housing prices increased 12.2%, Oren’s office said. The average apartment rent rose 36% from 2003 to 2012.
Should Oren’s bill become law, it will immediately increase the pay of the 6,400 lone soldiers by NIS 300 per month, and their benefits will be updated every January and July, when the consumer price index is updated.
“As someone who served as a lone soldier, I know how difficult and challenging it is to serve as a soldier without family support,” Oren said. “This bill is meant to fix an injustice that continued for 10 years, in which lone soldiers’ pay was not updated according to the cost of living in Israel.”
Oren, chairman of the Knesset Caucus to Help Lone Soldiers, said this bill is only the first step, as he is working on several bills to benefit lone soldiers, including exempting them from paying municipal taxes, water and electricity and to cancel the current policy by which lone soldiers who get married lose their benefits.
“This is the least we can do for thousands of lone soldiers who left their families and decided to contribute to Israel’s security,” he added. Oren also hopes to do more to help the 20 to 25% of lone soldiers who are not new immigrants, who he said “have nothing going for them” upon completing IDF service. He pointed out that, unlike new immigrants, they do not receive the same benefits from organizations like the Jewish Agency or Nefesh B’Nefesh after leaving the army