Graduation Ceremony for IDF officers on February 24, 2016. (IDF Spokeperson)

The Israeli army (IDF) is known for its prowess and advanced technology. Lesser known is the wide range of projects which maintain soldier welfare and morale. These programs might just be the secret to the IDF’s outstanding success.

“Successful armies must work as a team, feel connected one to the other and maintain high morale,” Brigadier General Yehiel Gozal, CEO of Yahad-United for Israel’s Soldiers, told Breaking Israel News. “The social welfare programs that Yahad maintains, both on army bases and for soldiers when off-duty, are crucial for their success in the service.”

Following last year’s merger of various Israeli army organizations, welfare projects for Israel’s soldiers are now exclusively handled through Yahad-United for Israel’s Soldiers. Programs include providing lone and soldiers from lower socioeconomic households with financial and emotional support, establishing and maintaining the infrastructure at army bases and army border outposts, arranging social clubs, sports and training fields, exercise rooms, cinemas, synagogues and heritage centers, helping soldiers complete their matriculation programs and giving university scholarships.

“One should never underestimate the importance of keeping soldiers as comfortable and relaxed as possible, both during army missions and when they return to base,” continued Gozal. “Social events, fun days, holiday gifts, shopping cards and more are provided through Yahad. The overall performance of soldiers is directly related to how secure they feel both physically and emotionally with their platoon.”

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Yahad’s special services for lone soldiers (immigrant soldiers or soldiers estranged from their families) as well as for soldiers from struggling homes is one of their most important projects. “Thousands of soldiers serving today in the IDF are in need of financial aid,” Gozal told Breaking Israel News.

“A soldier concerned for his own general survival or that of his family is distracted from his army service. We ease their worries through distributing personal shopping gift vouchers before Jewish holidays and food vouchers to families in financial need.”

Yahad-United for Israel’s Soldiers operates under the IDF’s code of values, which includes complete transparency of their programs and expenditures. They act as a link between the Israeli Army, Israeli society and the diaspora. Due to the Israeli MInistry of Defense covering all operating costs, 100 percent of donations received by Yahad go directly to benefit IDF soldiers.

“We do all that we can to limit the everyday worries and stress that any 18-21-year-old might face,” continued Gozal. “To that end, we also finance the building and refurbishing of synagogues on bases, run Jewish heritage programs which increases soldier spirit and motivation, provide special holiday celebrations and even run educational projects to help foreign soldiers master Hebrew, complete matriculation exams, and receive university scholarships.”

With tens of thousands of soldiers dedicating a minimum of three years of their lives to protect Israel and her citizens, Yahad’s work is crucial for strengthening the Israeli army and her soldiers. Their programs help make army service more pleasant, comfortable and as free as possible of personal worries.

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Source: Israel in the News