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IDF veteran seriously hurt after self-immolating in Netanya

A veteran of the Israel Defense Forces, whose application to be recognized as suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) had been denied, was seriously hurt after setting himself on fire at his home in the coastal city of Netanya on Tuesday, the Defense Ministry and medical officials said.

Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan said the man, 33, arrived with severe burns on his entire body and was being treated at the hospital’s trauma center.

The Defense Ministry said the veteran’s application to be recognized as suffering from PTSD as a result of his military service had been denied.

In a statement, the ministry said the man served in the military between 2008 and 2011. At some point after his service, he submitted an application to be recognized as a wounded vet, which would have made him eligible for certain state support and benefits.

“His request to be recognized as a disabled IDF veteran was thoroughly examined and rejected after he was diagnosed as suffering from a mental illness, which was not PTSD and was not related to his military service,” the ministry said.

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The ministry said that “the doctors who examined him and treated him during the past year and a half did not diagnose PTSD.”

“The Defense Ministry was in continuous contact with his family throughout the application, and wishes for his safety and health,” it added.

The Defense Ministry is seen along with other buildings in Tel Aviv, August 2016. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

In April, hours before Israel marked its annual Memorial Day for fallen soldiers and terror victims, an IDF veteran attempted to set fire to a Defense Ministry office that handles the rehabilitation of injured soldiers. The ministry at the time said the man was apparently disgruntled as his application to be recognized as a wounded veteran had been dismissed in 2013.

Two years ago, IDF veteran Itzik Saidyan self-immolated outside the Petah Tikva offices of the Rehabilitation Department for disabled soldiers, in a case that attracted national attention to the plight of IDF veterans traumatized by events that happened during their military service.

Saidyan, who has since mostly recovered, said he had struggled for years to receive the care he requested for PTSD, which he said stemmed from his service in the military.

The Defense Ministry’s treatment for wounded veterans came under intense scrutiny following Saidyan’s grim protest.

Veterans and their advocates have long maligned the department as providing woefully insufficient care and subjecting applicants to a bureaucracy so convoluted and tortuous that many were required to hire expensive lawyers to help them navigate the system.

After Saidyan’s self-immolation and the accompanying outcry, the Defense Ministry sought to implement reforms that it had been considering for years but had not had the political will to carry out.