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July 7, 2017 4:05 pm

Israeli Military Introduces Plan to Prevent PTSD Among Soldiers

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IDF paratroopers in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge. Photo: Wikipedia.

JNS.org – The IDF on Thursday introduced a new plan that aims to bolster combat soldiers’ mental resilience and reduce the risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The plan includes the use of special software developed as part of a collaboration between the IDF and Yair Bar-Haim, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Tel Aviv University.

The study concluded that people who experience a traumatic situation when they are more alert to dangers are more resistant to PTSD. The findings have prompted the military to devise ways to improve combat soldiers’ alertness by training them to more actively look out for threats. This includes the use of a special attention-training software the IDF plans to use according to operational priorities, meaning soldiers deployed in frontline sectors would be the first to use it, with auxiliary and support units following suit.

Head of the IDF Technological and Logistics Directorate Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliwa reviewed the software in January. He also appropriated special resources to promote the plan.

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As part of the training, soldiers using the software will be shown different motifs in images and words, and will be trained to quickly identify threatening motifs.

Training on the new software will take place as part of soldiers’ basic or advanced training, according to their assignments. Every soldier will undergo between four and six exercises, and refresher sessions are set to be held before operational deployment.

“We are in the midst of a shift in the IDF that focuses not only on combat fitness and physical health, but also on soldiers’ mental fitness,” said Lt. Col. Dr. Vlad Svetlitzky, head of the Mental Health Branch at the IDF’s GOC Army Headquarters.

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