For some newly released soldiers of the IDF, the transition from military to civilian life can be daunting. It’s common for these new civilians to travel the world, from South America and New York to Thailand and India, before returning to Israel and deciding what’s next.
Former soldiers have many options available to them. They are eligible for a one-time loan to be used for university studies, the completion of a high school diploma, a psychometric exam (the Israeli SAT), professional courses (tour guiding, bartending, etc.), buying a home, opening up a new business and planning a wedding. The amount of money available to soldiers will vary depending on the length and type of their service in the IDF and whether they served in combat units.
Certain fields are increasingly popular for former Israeli combat soldiers. They often find work in security details (including as personal bodyguards of celebrities), and sometimes they train foreign armies. In addition, there is a great need today for security services aboard cruise ships, especially in the heavily pirated waters along the Red Sea and Africa’s eastern coastline.
Soldiers also have the opportunity to work as counselors or teachers at summer camps across North America. There is even a government incentive program to train released soldiers to be sushi chefs. The course, funded by the Trade and Labor Ministry, includes workshops and classroom studies as well as job placement upon completion.
An innovative, new program offers recently released soldiers a free trip around Israel. Similar to Birthright, the journey is intended to provide young Israeli adults with a chance to explore their country, history and identity – precisely at the point in their lives where they begin the transition from military to civilian life.
Some soldiers suffer from PTSD after serving in a combat unit for three years or more. To help these veterans, the Israeli Center for the Treatment of Psychotrauma has come up with a solution, which it calls the ‘Peace of Mind’ intervention.