The State of Israel will begin issuing cards to soldiers who finished at least 85 percent of their term of military duty. Every Israeli soldier will be issued an honorable discharge card upon completion of his or her service, beginning next month, the IDF announced.
The innovation is part of a series of new initiatives the IDF has come up with in order to try and boost motivation for military service in general, and combat service in particular. The decision follows latest statistics which show that well over one quarter of army-aged young men avoid enlistment, either because they are hareidi-religious or because of various physical, psychological and social problems, real or faked.
Observers attribute the the drop in motivation to the following factors: 1) increasing materialism and cynicism in Israeli society, 2) the IDF's role in the expulsion of Jews from their homes in the 2005 Gaza Disengagement, and 3) the Second Lebanon War, which most Israelis perceived as a blow to the IDF's prestige.
The cards will make their bearers eligible for various perks as civilians. However, the list of perks has still not been announced.
'Service is the entry pass into society'
The new honorable discharge card will be issued in three colors: gold for combat soldiers, silve
The honorable discharge cards will be the first in a series of steps that the IDF hopes will boost youths' motivation to serve.
r for combat support roles and brass for all other roles. In addition, some of the newly-released soldiers will receive cards bearing a star: these will be given to officers, volunteers, women who served three years (like the men do), excellent soldiers and recipients of medals, as well as non-combat soldiers who carried out certain jobs, like programmer, paramedic and boot camp instructor (for women).
"Military service is the entry pass into society," explained Col. Tziki Sela, head of the Department of Planning and Manpower Administration. "Whoever gave more will receive more."
Soldiers who do not complete at least 85% of their required term of service will receive ordinary release cards, as IDF soldiers always have.
IDF statistics show that about 7,000 young men avoid service annually. In 2007, they were 27.7 percent of the total number of service-eligible men, In 1991, they were only 18.2%. As for women: 43.7% of eligible women did not enlist in 2007, as opposed to 32.8% in 1991. Avoiding the military is a relatively simple task for women, because it only involves making a statement to the effect that the woman is religious. Religious men, on the other hand, are drafted but can postpone service as long as they are engaged in full time Torah study.
The honorable discharge cards will be the first in a series of steps that the IDF hopes will boost youths' motivation to serve. Other plans include a law specifying benefits for people upon their release from the military, preventing employment in public administration jobs and denying bus driving licenses to service dodgers.