Lebanon War - Alon Ron - 2006
IDF soldiers on the border with Lebanon during the Second Lebanon War in 2006 Photo by Alon Ron
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The Defense Ministry has decided to recognize former IDF prisoners of war as having suffered post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, and as a result they will no longer have to undergo exams to ascertain their condition. However, they will still be required to appear before a medical committee which will determine the degree to which they are entitled to handicap benefits.

This new decision will also apply for Gilad Shalit upon his expected return to Israel on Tuesday.

The decision was made by Defense Ministry director general Maj. Gen. (res.) Udi Shani, and has been considered for a long time by the rehabilitation department. In the past, there had been strong criticism voiced by former prisoners of war who claimed that they had not been able to get approval for post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms which emerged, sometimes decades after being freed.

As a result of the change in policy, the Defense Ministry is now promising a "fast-track" for former prisoners, without red tape and immediate recognition as post-traumatic stress sufferers, which will enable them to receive care at state expense for the rest of their lives.

As opposed to reports yesterday, Gilad Shalit has still not been categorized as an injured IDF veteran. At the Defense Ministry, they stressed that this is a process that will take place only when he is back in the country. However, they said that, like the rest of the veterans who had been war prisoners, he too will automatically be recognized as suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.