4,649 disabled IDF veterans suffer PTSD

143 soldiers injured in Operation Defensive Shield known and treated as disabled IDF veterans; Defense Ministry reveals numbers.

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Mordechai Sones,

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The Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee today (Tuesday) discussed the state's treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder sufferers.

Deputy Director-General of the Defense Ministry Brig. Gen. (Res.) Hezi Mashita revealed in the discussion the number of disabled IDF veterans with post-trauma and the special treatment provided by the Defense Ministry.

4,649 IDF veterans are recognized with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and are treated by the Rehabilitation Department of the Defense Ministry. About half of them receive compensation and subsistence allowance in accordance with their recognized disability.

143 soldiers injured in Operation Defensive Shield were recognized as IDF veterans with a post-combat reaction (with a disability level of 20% or more) are treated in the Rehabilitation Department, and are in the process of rehabilitation with the assistance of a multi-disciplinary team (CM). Most of them also suffer from a combined physical and mental injury: 40% of them are currently being funded by the Defense Ministry as part of the rehabilitation process, 26% are employed, and the rest are in different stages of the rehabilitation program.

Mashita explained that "the rehabilitation department is assisted by professionals and the best experts in Israel, invests considerable resources in developing advanced treatment methods for victims of post-trauma and is now considered one of the leading organizations in the world in this field. IDF veterans who have been recognized as post-trauma victims are entitled to extensive assistance in the areas of rehabilitation, medicine, and welfare, and the Defense Ministry operates a wide range of occupational rehabilitation for them, including unique treatment frameworks.

"We are working to improve constantly to streamline the process, and together with the IDF are taking steps to increase awareness among post-traumatic soldiers of the phenomenon of post-trauma and ways to treat them," he said.

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In general, the process of absorbing IDF disabled veterans in the Rehabilitation Department has undergone comprehensive reform in recent years, centered on a proactive approach to reach all those who have been recognized as disabled, quick intervention, shortening bureaucracy, and building a rehabilitation program in all aspects: welfare, medicine, and employment.

Any disabled person recognized for PTSD (over 20% disability) is entitled to individual, marital, and/or family psychological treatment. The Defense Ministry employs the leading experts in the State of Israel in a variety of therapeutic methods and in accordance with the principles of intervention in post-traumatic stress disorder of the Israeli Consortium led by Prof. Yossi Zohar.

The Rehabilitation Department places particular emphasis on the rehabilitation of post-trauma victims through re-integration in the work force. A study conducted by the deputy head of the Rehabilitation Division and the head of the medical services unit, Dr. Dan Segev, in 2016 revealed that about 65% of people with post-traumatic stress disorder are full-time workers, about 12% are part-time workers. The rate of unemployed stands at 24%, twice the rate of non-workers who are not diagnosed as post-traumatic stressors (Segev, 2016).

The Rehabilitation Division operates a network of employment counselors in order to find employment frameworks for those with disabilities that support and advance them (both in terms of work hours and type of labor), as well as frameworks of protected institutions for disabled people who can not integrate into the labor market.

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In addition, the Rehabilitation Department operates treatment groups, including PTSD sufferers and their spouses for improving marital communication, groups for improving life skills, groups for disabled women, groups for the disabled of the Yom Kippur War, and groups for parents of post-trauma victims from Operation Defensive Shield.

The Rehabilitation Department operates and finances unique frameworks of their kind in Israel and around the world, including 10 day frameworks throughout the country operated by Bar Ilan University, Itgarim's "Sailing Ship", Gal Workshop, which provides social and occupational skills for people with disabilities who can not integrate into other frameworks, "Focus" - a unique framework in which computer and technology skills are taught, therapeutic riding frameworks and more. The Rehabilitation Department is also investing in research and cooperation with academia for promoting research in the treatment field.



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