by: Matan Tzuri
Thursday, 15 August 2019 | Military and health authorities are now having to accept that a new generation of soldiers from communities bordering the Hamas-controlled enclave, who grew up under a constant threat from Gaza, is plagued by post-trauma even before they’ve began their military service.
Eighteen-year-old Israelis, residents of the Gaza border communities, who are enlisting in military service carry with them the weight of a lifetime under rocket fire.
Some are so severely affected that they are unable to carry out their duties as soldiers, mostly in the demanding combat units.
The scope of the problem has just now begun to come to light as parents of new recruits turned to mental health services with reports of their children’s difficulties.
“My son wanted to be a combat soldier,” said one mother. “Those are the values we instilled in him growing up.” Throughout his childhood, signs of his trauma were noticeable but not severe, she says. “A door slamming would make him tense up. An ambulance siren would startle him.”
But when he joined his fighting unit he was overwhelmed. His childhood and youth under fire caused too many problems. Only after being moved to a non-combat position could he begin to serve effectively.
Community leaders say they are aware of the issue.
“We see the signs a year before they begin their service. During high school they still manage to keep their feelings bottled up,” said Nuki Goldfisher, who runs the support for young inductees in the Kibbutz Movement. “But as they begin to deal with the challenges of the military, we often see they cannot carry out their duties and often drop out.”
Now the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] and the government are being called on to address the problem and find a way to help the first generation of soldiers who were born into a reality of shelling, shelters and fear, which has had a lasting effect on their entire lives.
Posted on August 15, 2019
Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces
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