The Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee’s Subcommittee on IDF manpower, headed by MK Yoav Kisch (Likud), discussed on Tuesday the army’s treatment of its lone soldiers. During the debate it became clear that a significant gap exists between the treatment of lone soldiers who had immigrated to Israel and the treatment of so-called “irregular” lone soldiers, who are defined as soldiers who are estranged from their families who live in Israel and are therefore in need of support similar to “regular” lone soldiers.
While lone soldiers who made Aliyah receive efficient and speedy assistance from various sources such as the IDF, Defense Ministry, Jewish Agency and volunteer organizations, irregular lone soldiers fall between the cracks and experience financial difficulties, sometimes to the point where their bank accounts are seized once they are released from the army.
Gaining recognition as an irregular lone soldier can be a long and cumbersome process which may take months. Furthermore, during their army service lone soldiers are burdened by heavy debts, they have trouble finding a place to live, and at times they have nowhere to stay while on leave and are therefore forced to remain on base over the weekend.
“The sense is that there is no one to turn to, we fall between the cracks, and the solution is partial and accompanied by a sense of uncertainty,” one of the lone soldiers told the subcommittee.
Representatives of the IDF’s Manpower Directorate said the army provides exceptional support, on some level, to one out of every five soldiers. “We make mistakes, but in most cases assistance is given after between two weeks and a month,” said one of the representatives.
MK Kisch said he plans to hold a meeting that will focus only on irregular lone soldiers, including the criteria for recognition as an irregular lone soldier. He lauded the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption’s decision to increase the budget designated for providing housing solutions for lone soldiers.