September 12, 2006 / 19 Elul 5766
It is with a mixture of pride and sadness that I write to update you about the efforts of our Aliyah and Klita Department staff in caring for lone immigrant soldiers who were wounded in the Second Lebanon War. All the efforts were done in full coordination with the IDF; our support has contributed to the soldiers' emotional well-being, and we will continue as necessary.
In two cases of immigrant soldiers who were killed in the fighting, our staff supplemented the care for the bereaved families that was provided by the IDF and the Defense Ministry.
In one case this included providing the family of an oleh from France with a French-speaking social worker during the shiva (days of mourning) and working with the relevant department within the Defense Ministry to ensure that they also appoint French-speaking social workers.
In another case, that of a fallen soldier who had immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia, we arranged a medical and diagnostic examination by a professor with expertise in the area of infectious diseases for the mother, who was brought over as a tourist by the IDF after her son's death. In addition, an Amharic-speaking social worker was assigned to the family by the department, in full coordination with the Defense Ministry.
There were many angles of dealing with wounded soldiers that also required intensive intervention by our Aliyah and Klita Department staff, who worked around the clock to provide a high level of care:
- Locating wounded lone soldiers (in regular and reserve duty)
There was an urgent need for real-time data about wounded soldiers, a task made more complex by the difficulty involved in locating both soldiers in regular service, whose date of aliyah does not always appear in the military information system and who therefore are not necessarily identifiable as olim, and reserve soldiers, who are not identified within the IDF system as "lone soldiers" at all. In addition, the soldiers' telephone numbers were not always up-to-date, which made it hard to contact them directly once they had been identified.
Contact with the relevant military bodies was established by the Aliyah and Klita Department staff person responsible for helping the graduates of our programs for young olim, and information flowed 24 hours a day, including the soldiers' personal information, military status, degree of injury and place of hospitalization. Our fund for Lone Immigrant Soldiers was regularly updated.
- Identifying needs of wounded soldiers not addressed by the IDF or Defense Ministry
Initial contact with wounded immigrant lone soldiers involved determining their status and immediate needs. Aid was offered to each of them, including the possibility of volunteer assistance from the Together At Home project. Degree of need was assessed for basic products and equipment, financial assistance and the possibility of bringing a parent to Israel.
Each soldier was given the contact information of our relevant staff person, while the contact between the soldiers and the army's casualty staff was assessed, including whether they had completed injury reports and submitted claims to the Defense Ministry.
- Assistance to wounded soldiers
With the consent of the injured soldiers, and in coordination with them, they were visited in the hospitals and/or their homes, in cooperation with the Together At Home staff.
During these visits the soldiers received gift packages which had been purchased especially for them by the Aliyah and Klita Department, while the visits provided an opportunity to ensure that our intervention on behalf of the soldiers ran smoothly, both during and after their hospitalization, including helping the soldiers make contact with the hospital social services.
In cases where economic distress was identified, financial assistance was given to the soldiers, while the receipt of additional financial support from the IDF and other voluntary organizations was facilitated.
In order to ensure that the soldiers receive the most appropriate volunteer assistance, there was extensive coordination with the Together At Home staff. The project's volunteer coordinator continues to identify the most suitable volunteers for each case and ensure that the soldiers receive the concrete assistance they need.
- The process of bringing the parents of wounded soldiers to Israel from abroad
Since the IDF only brings to Israel parents of soldiers classified as seriously wounded, the Jewish Agency has taken upon itself to bring over the parents of lone immigrant soldiers who have been classified as moderately and lightly wounded and to deal with the logistics of their travel and living arrangements in Israel. This includes receiving the parent at the airport and bringing him to the soldier, and providing the parent with funds to cover living expenses for the initial period.
To date, the mothers of three wounded soldiers, all olim from the FSU, have been brought to Israel by the Jewish Agency. The mother of a fourth soldier is expected to arrive in the next few days.
Photo Credit: Shlomy Ben Ami