IDF gets into wedding business, pays for lone soldiers

Army will help finance nuptials of lone soldiers who choose to wed during their service; several soldiers express interest in program.

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May 17, 2011 19:08
2 minute read.
A wedding. (illustrative)

wedding 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

 
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The IDF is getting into the wedding business.

According to a new decision by OC Human Resources Directorate Maj.-Gen. Avi Zamir, the IDF will help finance weddings for lone soldiers serving in the military.

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Lt.-Col. Chaya Adler from the Human Resources Directorate said that around 50 lone soldiers marry annually during their service.

Once a soldier is married he or she loses their lone-soldier status. There are approximately 5,500 lone soldiers currently serving in the IDF – half of which do not have parents in Israel, and the other half are estranged from their families and do not have a support system.

“We figured that the soldiers cannot pay for the weddings, and in some cases, as a result, do not even have a wedding and thought that this would help them,” Adler said on Tuesday.

Last month, the Human Resources Directorate sent a letter to all IDF commanders and lone soldiers to update them about the new initiative. Since then, Adler said that her office has received a number of phone calls from soldiers who are interested in the new service.



Under the guidelines, the wedding will be held at the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel’s Soldiers (AWIS) Beit Hachayal in Tel Aviv.

There is a 130-person limit on the number of invitees.

Additionally, the IDF will pay for a photographer, DJ, wedding invitations, a wedding dress and a suit for the groom.

The IDF will also help pay the airfare for certain family members of lone soldiers’ to attend the wedding. The money will come from donations contributed to the AWIS, Adler said.

The new initiative comes on the heels of a decision by Zamir last year to establish a new department to look after the thousands of lone soldiers serving in the IDF.

The “Lone Soldiers Department” was set up last September and is stationed at the Tel Hashomer Base. The decision to establish the new department was made after the IDF Behavioral Science Department conducted a survey last year which found that most lone soldiers felt that they needed more support from the military.

Another new initiative aimed at assisting lone soldiers includes the opening of a special hotline, manned 24 hours a day for lone soldiers in need of help either within the military or when on leave.

The hotline can also be used by regular civilians who want to assist lone soldiers by donating supplies; or inviting soldiers to their homes over the weekend. The number is 03- 737-5200.

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