Photo Credit: Dudu Greenspan / Flash 90
Wounded Israeli soldiers are carried into Soroka hospital in Be'er Sheva after an explosive device detonated as troops were clearing a tunnel in Gaza. (archive)

Due to the prolonged war that began on October 7, many reservists with PTSD after serving in Gaza are being called up again before completing the required therapeutic process, according to the Clinic of the National Center for Post Trauma & Resilience at Tel Aviv University.

“Some of our patients, deeply committed to their country, unit, and comrades, leave everything behind and go back to reserve duty in the midst of treatment for their PTSD,” therapists are warning. “In this they risk aggravating their own psychological condition, and since they might not be fully fit for active service, they also endanger their comrades.”


The clinic cautions that some reservists quickly respond to the new IDF summons, quit or delay therapy and return to service, risking further deterioration is their condition and also endangering their comrades because they might not be fully fit for active service.

The data was presented at TAU’s Annual Convention, ‘Israel’s Future.’

The clinic, opened soon after the current war broke out, receives each week about 40 new requests for treatment from both civilians and soldiers, most of them affected by the war.

The “torrent” is unusual, even compared to past military campaigns, indicating the great emotional distress engendered by the war, with no end in sight, the clinic reports.

“Since the Oct. 7 attack, the numbers of PTSD sufferers in need of therapy have grown every month,” reports Prof. Yair Bar-Haim, Head of the National Center for Post Trauma & Resilience at Tel Aviv University.

“Often reservists go back home, presumably to their ‘normal lives’, and it takes them some time to realize that they can’t function normally at work or at home. Moreover, these people face substantial danger due to a troubling phenomenon we noted recently: many of our patients are called up again before completing therapy for PTSD from their first round of fighting. Being deeply committed to their country, unit, and comrades, some leave everything behind and go back to serve. It must be understood that this can worsen their own symptoms, and there is also real concern about their ability to function and make decisions as commanders or squad members on the battlefield.

“This trend also calls for adapting existing therapeutic protocols generally addressing past traumas that have generated a psychological disorder, but most probably will not happen again.

“The unique situation of returning to the context of the trauma and risking exposure to more trauma, has been rarely discussed in the professional literature. Today this is happening in two places, Israel and Ukraine, as a result of protracted wars,” he says.

Bar-Haim says he is calling upon decision makers to “act now and develop long-term solutions” that look to the next 20 years at least.

The professor is recommending upgraded and accelerated training processes for future therapists and establishment of strong regional clinics specializing in trauma and PTSD.

“In the immediate term, we must raise the awareness of soldiers, commanders, and civilians regarding the symptoms of PTSD,” he says.

Bar-Haim urges an exemption from additional military service for individuals already receiving therapy for PTSD until the therapeutic process has been completed and the patient is once again psychologically competent.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.