Many lone soldiers still not receiving stipends

Source from a volunteer organization says that in recent months, five complaints per week are received concerning Absorption Ministry stipends.

LoneSoldierWithMom311-2 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Many lone soldiers are still not receiving their monthly stipend from the Immigrant Absorption Ministry, even though the ministry said in January that the funds had been allocated to remedy the problem, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
Lone soldiers are those who do not have family in Israel to look after their needs. According to IDF figures, there are some 5,100 lone soldiers serving in the army, of whom some 60 percent, or roughly 3,000, are new immigrants. These immigrants are eligible to receive a monthly stipend of NIS 352 from the Absorption Ministry in addition to their army pay.
A source who volunteers with an organization that helps lone soldiers said Monday that over the past few months, he had received around five calls per week from soldiers saying they had not received their monthly stipend.
As a volunteer, the source said, he took part in many pre-army draft seminars “to prepare lone soldiers for their service. We tell them what they’re owed by the Immigrant Absorption Ministry and what they’re supposed to receive, and they don’t understand what we mean by ‘supposed to.’ I tell them that we can’t assure that they will receive the money every month and that they must prepare the necessary documents and check that it is taken care of each month.”
He added that “the money is supposed to go directly into the soldiers’ bank accounts, but there are often problems, and when these soldiers look into it, they are told to go to the Absorption Ministry. This requires a day off from the army, something that many of them only receive once a month.”
In addition, the volunteer pointed out, many of these soldiers don’t know how to navigate Israeli bureaucracy, and once they finish the army – for some of them, after only three or six months – they are not eligible to receive the money retroactively.
In December, The Jerusalem Post reported that several hundred lone soldiers had not received their Absorption Ministry supplements for four months. A spokesman for the ministry said at the time that the office lacked the funds, but the problem would be remedied beginning January 1, 2010.
Contacted by the Post on Monday, the spokesman, Yoash Ben-Izhak, said that there “was a problem for a couple months, but it has been taken care of,” and the money had been found to pay these supplements.
Last November, the Post revealed that the Absorption Ministry had ceased funding promised employment training vouchers for several thousand new immigrants. In the wake of the article, the ministry negotiated with the Finance Ministry for new funds and restored the program.