Shalom Life | October 18, 2015

IDF Veterans Visit India as Part of Rehabilitation Plan

The Zahal Disabled Veterans Organization aiming to help re-establish lives of Gaza 2014 war veterans

By: Tanya Grabarnik

Published: May 8th, 2015 in Health » World

Photo: IDF Soldiers


The word “veteran” tends to call to mind grey-haired men and women adorned with medals, holding commemorative plaques in their wrinkled, war-weathered hands. But when our thoughts turn to Israel or when we are confronted with a photograph of Israeli veterans, we inevitably see faces we recognize immediately – our brothers and sisters, our cousins and friends.

What we see in their young faces is happiness and hope for a better, ultimately peaceful world. What we understand when we talk to them is that they are smiling and happy in spite of the mental, emotional, and physical trauma they experienced on the front lines. Some have even become disabled and face additional challenges when they return home.

Along with the medical care and financial assistance that The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) provides to disabled veterans, The Zahal Disabled Veterans Organization (ZDVO) provides additional assistance in the form of comprehensive, long-term programs aimed to re-integrate disabled veterans into society and re-establish their normal lives to the fullest extent possible.

As part of this commitment, ZDVO has organized a trip to India, in conjunction with El Al, for veterans injured in the 2014 conflict with Gaza and in other hostilities. The trip took place this week and saw participants rafting in the Gagnes River, hiking the Himalayas, and touring popular villages.

ZDVO states on their website that the trip is meant to be “a rewarding rehabilitative experience, a personal and social journey,” providing veterans with an emotional boost and tools that will enable them to “move on with their lives and reintegrate as best they can back into society”. The young veterans are accompanied by professionals and older veterans serving as mentors.

Organizers have described the trip as “part of the rehabilitation process...designed to provide members of the group tools to deal with their personal journey, improve the empowerment process, and raise their self-confidence”.

Yehuda Percy, a Givati Brigade combatant who lost his sight in an incident on the Gaza border in 2012, said during a ZDVO event in November 2014: “Thanks for doing everything you do so that we can keep smiling”.

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