IDF wants officers to spend more time with their families

Israeli army developing a project that would enable officers serving in combat units to spend more time with their families.

Tzvi Lev,

Gerson Elinson/Flash90

Lieutenant Shlomo Jungreis was a 22-year-old platoon commander in the Kfir Brigade when he married his wife, Noa. "It was extremely difficult to be an officer in a combat unit while married," he recalled to Arutz Sheva. "I would see her for a weekend every two weeks before returning to base."

"The IDF didn't care about how hard it was," Jungreis continued. "My commander told me that as far as the army is concerned, it's your fault if you decided to get married."

Things might have been different had Jungreis still been serving today. The IDF has been working on an extensive plan that aims to strengthen military families, with extra focus on combat officers, who generally go home to their families every other weekend.

The IDF Manpower Division has been spearheading the effort for over a year, and has formed a plan that would change the existing organizational culture of the IDF, and revolutionize the benefits that the families of IDF officers are entitled to.

A significant component of the new plan is the establishment of a center offering assistance to the families of combat officers. Scheduled to be opened in the coming months, the center aims to centralize all information relevant to a married officer in one place, and will actively reach out to officers and their families to make sure that they get what they are entitled to.

The project also put in place additional measures that are designed to help integrate one's military career and family life. For example, mandatory IDF fitness tests are now prohibited to be held on Fridays, something commonly done in the past. IDF officers had complained that these tests were taking them away from their families.

Married officers are also now granted a two-week leave when they transfer positions, up from the one week they are currently entitled to. Another change is delaying the time officers need to report to base on Sundays to 10:00, which would allow them to drop off their kids at school.

"All of these steps were formulated, among other things, in the wake of conversations held by family members of career officers with the head of the Personnel Directorate, Major General Motti Almoz," explained Lt. Col. Zer Aviv, who heads the Service Conditions department in the Manpower Directorate.

The IDF isn't the only body that is aware of the challenges married soldiers face. In April, Machon Puah, a religious institute assisting with fertility issues, launched a series of seminars designed to help religious officers that are away from home for long periods of time. Machon Puah also set up a 'Rabbi for the Soldier', 24-hour telephone call center dedicating to helping religious officers.