IDF, PTSD

IDF Veterans with PTSD decry severe neglect at state control committee meeting 

Veterans voice frustration over lack of mental health support; calls for urgent reform and increased funding as Defense Ministry struggles to address growing PTSD crisis.

Israeli soldiers return from an army operation in the Gaza Strip on the Israel- Gaza Border, (Photo by Edi Israel/Flash90)

During a meeting of the Knesset State Control Committee yesterday (Monday), chaired by Yesh Atid MK Mickey Levy, IDF veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) voiced their frustrations about severe neglect and inadequate treatment from state authorities.

As reported by The Knesset, Omer Amsalem, a veteran of Operation Protective Edge in 2014, expressed his anguish over the disparity between the treatment of physical and mental disabilities. "I was already killed once. Why do I have to come here and yell and express my resentment? Why do we have to hear about another shell-shocked [soldier] who committed suicide?" Amsalem questioned.

Aviram Atias, a friend of Eliran Mizrahi, an IDF reservist who recently took his own life, shared the impact of PTSD on his daily life. "I have a daughter in the army. What we are going through is disgraceful. Everything collapses in one day, and you do not know where to pick up the pieces from ... We are all bleeding to death," he said.

Avichai Levy, another IDF soldier affected by PTSD, criticized the government's inaction and lack of support. "How many Eliran Mizrahis do you need? Why lie to us? My friends are experiencing missiles and gunfire all day long ... There hasn't been, and there still isn't, anyone who will treat us," Levy stated.

The debate revealed the limited capacity of the Defense Ministry's Rehabilitation Department, with one physician responsible for approximately 4,000 injured IDF veterans and 280 positions remaining vacant. Despite a decision to form a committee to improve mental healthcare services for disabled veterans, there has been a significant delay in its establishment.

Unfortunately, this is not a new situation. In 2019, the Guardian reported that as many as one in 12 Israeli soldiers who served in active combat report PTSD symptoms.

“I shot my first person before I was 19. I had people die in my arms,” said Or Eilon, 24, a former combat medic and unit commander who experienced severe symptoms of PTSD. Eilon described his struggles post-service, “I started to go crazy, I burnt things, I hit my mum. I woke up with urine all over my bed. I saw pictures, smelled things, tasted things. It’s scary.”

MK Levy stressed the moral obligation of the state to care for its returning soldiers. "A country that sends its soldiers to battle must know how to care for them when they return. It is not supposed to abandon them as soon as they return their weapons," Levy said.

He called for immediate action, demanding that the Defense Ministry announce within 10 days whether it plans to set up the mental healthcare committee and urged the Ministry of Finance to allocate a budget for treating veterans with PTSD.

Adv. Idan Kliman, head of the IDF Disabled Veterans Organization, warned of the long-term implications of continued neglect, saying, "The failure is beginning to cost the lives of the best of our sons and daughters."

Eyal Fruchter, director of the mental health division at Rambam Health Care Campus, stated, "I think the Ministry of Defence is mistreating people."

The testimonies of veterans and the data presented highlight a critical need for systemic change in how we support our soldiers, both during and after their service.

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