IDF soldiers (illustration)
IDF soldiers (illustration)Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

A group of IDF veterans is demanding that Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon meet with them to discuss ways to help veterans of the army who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

“We are a group of fighters who have been injured during the course of our service, united in a brotherhood of combat, who cry out for help,” said the letter from the group, which calls itself the Action Committee for PTSD Victims. “Some of our brothers came back in coffins, some of us came back injured physically, and some of us came back suffering from PTSD.”

Not often discussed in Israel, PTSD is an anxiety disorder that can develop after a person is exposed to one or more traumatic events, and is most often associated with soldiers who have observed the horrors of the battlefield. PTSD sufferers are treated with a combination of drugs and therapy.

While the IDF provides assistance for a wide variety of physical ills, the group said that PTSD and other mental conditions have not gotten the attention due them. “We feel that the defense establishment has ignored us,” said the letter. “Instead of providing us with top-level care for PTSD, the system instead shunts us to the care of psychologists who are not familiar with the syndrome, and who prescribe habit-forming pills that turn us into 'walking zombies.' For financial reasons, the state has chosen to take the easy – and cheap – way out, instead of giving us the proper and up to date care we need.

“Soldiers who suffer from PTSD simply do not get the care they need, and what care they do receive entails them receiving care in psychiatric facilities, which is a totally inappropriate form of care,” the letter said. “We have been complaining about this issue for years, but to no avail. As the top commander of the IDF, you know what it means to send soldiers to fight in war, and the importance of following orders. Can you allow some of our best men to deteriorate with no path of return, even as the IDF has the resources to help, but fails to do so?”