Where to house traumatized IDF soldiers? Defense Min. debates

The Defense Ministry committee will examine the unique needs of IDF disabled people dealing with post-trauma – specifically in the field of housing.

IDF soldiers of the ultra-Orthodox 'Nahal Brigade' seen silhouetted holding their weapons at an Israeli army base in Beersheba, southern Israel, March 31, 2014. (photo credit: MENDY HECHTMAN/FLASH90)
IDF soldiers of the ultra-Orthodox 'Nahal Brigade' seen silhouetted holding their weapons at an Israeli army base in Beersheba, southern Israel, March 31, 2014.
(photo credit: MENDY HECHTMAN/FLASH90)

Israel’s Defense Ministry established a committee to examine housing solutions for former IDF soldiers suffering from traumatic disorders, brain injuries or other combat-related mental illnesses, the Ministry’s spokesperson announced Tuesday.

The committee will operate under the Defense Ministry’s Department of Rehabilitation and is a part of the “One Soul” reforms, which were announced in July and aims to reduce suicides among former IDF veterans.

The committee was greenlit by Defense Ministry Director-General Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amir Eshel and will be chaired by Dr. Shlomo Mendelovich, director of the "Shalveta" mental health center from the Clalit group – one of Israel’s prominent state healthcare organizations.

What will the committee do?

The committee will examine the unique needs of disabled IDF veterans dealing with post-trauma disorders – specifically in the field of housing – in order to find the appropriate solutions that will allow them to focus on their optimal rehabilitation while ensuring assistance in welfare and housing.

 IDF soldiers take part in the Beyond the Horizon drill that caps off the month-long Chariots of Fire. (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT) IDF soldiers take part in the Beyond the Horizon drill that caps off the month-long Chariots of Fire. (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)

"Housing and living in the community are a central pillar in the rehabilitation of the disabled in the IDF, and therefore we are currently promoting legislation that expands the scope of assistance given by the Defense Ministry in favor of housing and vehicles, which are required for mobility needs,” explained Limor Luria, Deputy Director and Head of the Rehabilitation Division at the Defense Ministry.

"Housing and living in the community are a central pillar in the rehabilitation of the disabled in the IDF, and therefore we are currently promoting legislation that expands the scope of assistance given by the Defense Ministry in favor of housing and vehicles, which are required for mobility needs."

Limor Luria

The Department of Rehabilitation adds the housing initiative into its rolling list of initiatives tailored to protect former soldiers dealing with mental trauma. A bill increasing funding for car and housing aid for disabled Israel Defense Force veterans was approved in late July by the government and the committee for legislative affairs.

What prompted the “One Soul” reforms?

The One Soul reforms have been undertaken by Defense Minister Benny Gantz over the last year – reforms initiated since the self-immolation of former soldier Itzik Saidian in front of a Defense Ministry building in protest of difficulties over getting disabled status and aid. 

IDF soldiers who were wounded in battle or suffer from PTSD have often lost friends, suffer irreparable injuries, and can continue to suffer from physical and mental trauma.

Among the reforms is increased eligibility for compensation, a 24/7 hotline for those suffering from PTSD, and crisis houses have been developed for those suffering severe mental breakdowns – among other administrative reforms.

"The IDF Organization for the Disabled welcomes the decision of the Defense Ministry to establish a committee that will create dedicated housing solutions for disabled and disabled IDF personnel dealing with post-trauma,” declared Idan Kaliman, Chairman of the IDF Organization for the Disabled.

“The rehabilitation of all disabled IDF personnel And the post-traumatic in particular is a fundamental anchor in the 'one soul' reform and we will continue to insist on the continued implementation of the reform, every letter and comma of which has value in a person's life," he added.