IDF Disabled Veterans Demand Justice over Overhaul Plan

The IDF Disabled Veterans Organization demanded Tuesday that the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) and the IDF respect the agreement signed with them in 2013 on the subject of recognition of disabled IDF veterans and their rights, following the expected publication of a governmental plan to streamline the IDF.

One of the changes expected in the overhaul includes a change in the criteria for who qualifies as "disabled" under the IDF, and thus who would qualify for financial assistance and subsidized medical care. 

"It is unacceptable that a soldiers who will is recognized as a disabled veteran in 2016 will receive only part of the benefits his comrade receives if he was injured five years earlier, under the same conditions," explained the organization's chairman, Haim Bar.

The IDF Disabled Veterans Organization held a hearing on the issue recently to discuss the overhaul that is being planned by the Loker Committee.

"All those involved," Bar said, "are aware of the agreement signed in early 2013 between the Prime Minister's Office, the Director of the Defense Ministry and the Ministry of Finance, as well as our organization. We expect that this agreement will be honored verbatim in their decisions."

"We insist, as stipulated in the agreement, there will be no 'first generation' versus 'second generation' of IDF disabled veterans," he said, stating that instead, the rights of vets should remain consistent. "The State of Israel has signed an unwritten agreement with the soldiers who serve in the army and the agreement must be respected."

"Those who have already been recognized as disabled veterans must have the same rehabilitation, rights and treatment as the comrades who were recognized several years ago." 

Bar particularly raged against plans to cut the benefits given to the widows of disabled IDF soldiers who passed away, noting that such an agreement would "leave them out in the cold" after they tended to their disabled husbands for years.

Bar stressed that the IDF Disabled Veterans Organization is committed to respecting the agreements signed in the past, and expects the same from all government organizations. "This decision is of moral importance," Bar said, "and needs to be discussed seriously and I am confident that the Knesset and the government will do so. The IDF Disabled Veterans Organization will respect the agreement as long as it is respected by the government and the Knesset." 

"Do not just talk about the ethical and moral debt towards disabled IDF veterans; you also have to pay it," he stressed. "If, God forbid, we see that words and actions are two separate things, we will act in any way to protect the rights of disabled IDF veterans. "

Bar's calls for consistency follow numerous complaints by disabled soldiers who were wounded during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza that their rights as veterans were not being met by the Ministry of Defense. Despite the fact that over a year has passed since the war began, some soldiers still are caught in the bureaucratic nightmare of getting approval or getting reimbursement for medical treatment. 


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