The IDF unveiled plans to fund academic or vocational studies for discharged soldiers with special backgrounds who were drafted after July 2013.
The vision of the IDF, as defined by Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot and approved by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, is that every soldier (from a special background) discharged from the army will be eligible for support in his academic or vocational studies, besides the other benefits he is entitled to by law.
The revolutionary social plan envisaged by the IDF aims to show appreciation to soldiers for their contribution and service to the state. It is designed to encourage more discharged soldiers to study degrees and to attain professions which will enable them to integrate better into civilian society.
At first the support will be provided to combat soldiers with special backgrounds but ultimately it will be broadened to include non-combatants as well, with the financial support being dependent on the type of service involved (Combat/combat support/ non-combatant).
The funding for the plan will be based on contributions from the "Yahad-United for Israel's Soldiers" fund as well as from supporters of the IDF from Israel and around the world in accordance with the change in priorities regarding contributions to the IDF by which student funding for discharged soldiers will be given top priority. The implementation of the plan requires legislative changes.
At present, discharged soldiers receive a deposit which can be used to fund part of a degree, housing, a wedding or opening a business. The new program will allow soldiers to fund a third of their student fees from the deposit and the other two thirds will be funded by the plan, thus enabling full funding of his studies.
A soldier who funds one year of his academic studies will receive funding for another two years of studies through the program, or another three years of engineering or medical studies.
The program will run from the present academic year, with thousands of soldiers from special backgrounds expected to benefit from it over the course of the year. Ultimately the program will include more than 40,000 discharged soldiers every year and when it is extended to include all types of soldiers it will include about 120,000 soldiers every year.
In the next fortnight it will be possible to refer questions to the IDF's Office for Public Inquiries and thereafter all questions will be answered by the department for discharged soldiers at the Defense Ministry.