A new program devised by the IDF's Manpower Directorate in collaboration with the Medical Corps' Mental Health department has managed to achieve a 25% drop in the number of exemptions issued for potential soldiers. The program aims to fight the number of exemptions being issued to teenagers on mental health grounds under the Profile 21 clause.
The mental health clause has become the primary basis for IDF service exemptions in recent years, topped only by the clause enabling haredi men to avoid service. Between 2006-2007, 6% of all military service applicants were discharged for mental health reasons.
IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and the former Personnel Directorate chief decided to put an end to the phenomenon. The current Manpower Directorate head, Major-General Avi Zamir, continued the effort and initiated a collaboration with the Mental Health department and recruiting centers in order to reduce the number of exemptions. The effort has been successful: In 2010 the number of those exempted on mental health grounds dropped from 6% to 4.5%.
Fictitious psychiatric opinions
As part of the program, the IDF has boosted inspection on exemptions issued by non-military psychiatrists. Teens were known to show up at recruiting centers with psychiatric opinions bought for thousands of shekels from leading doctors.
The opinions, which were fictitious or at best exaggerated, required the centers to send applicants to two specialists, who often discharged them as having Profile 21 to avoid risk. Mental health officers were put in an impossible situation, having to take responsibility for soldiers who appeared completely healthy, but fearing to do so.
As part of the program, the IDF chief of staff and manpower chief declared they would back the officers into sticking to their own evaluations.
Another reform was made in the profile classification policy. Instead of exempting any soldier with Profile 21, a new clause has been added – adjustment difficulties.
This prevents soldiers from being automatically classified under Profile 21, or other non-combat profies such as 45 or 64, and enables them to serve in professional roles in Home Front units and not necessarily in administrative positions, which come with easier conditions.
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