NATAL in collaboration with the Brandman Institute, conducted a comprehensive survey on the impact of military service in the Gaza Strip during Operation Cast Lead, Operation Pillar of Defense and Operation Protective Edge. The survey revealed significant and complex findings on the emotional state of those who served in the Gaza Strip.

Survey results:

– Over a quarter of respondents (27%) of respondents reported that to date they feel they have not adapted to civilian life

– The percentage of those suffering from post-trauma is higher among soldiers who served regularly during Operation Protective Edge (16%) compared to those on reserve duty (10%)

-The percentage of women who were involved in the operation and suffer from post-trauma is higher than the percentage of men (18% among women compared to 13% in men)

-66% of respondents feel that the training they underwent before the military operation did not prepare them for combat in Gaza

-In contrast to the above mentioned, those who reported adequate preparation and training prior to exposure suffered less from the consequences of trauma, both physically and mentally, as well as in other aspects of civilian life

-80% feel that they are proud of their military service

-12% use medical cannabis/alcohol and/or other drugs on a regular basis

The survey respondents include combat soldiers who were personally injured during the operation and combat soldiers who know friends who were injured but were not injured themselves.

Below are results from the respondents who were injured themselves during the fighting:

18% feel that combat has harmed their physical health

33% feel that combat has harmed their mental health

21% feel that trauma impairs their ability to develop romantic relationships and other relationships

14% feel that the relationship with their family members has been damaged

19% reported that the trauma impairs their daily activities and ability to work

24% reported that it impairs their ability to learn

19% feel that the trauma impairs the ability to form and maintain social connections

The effects of trauma:

26% reported recurring dreams that cause feelings of distress

21% reported re-experience or flashbacks of combat experiences

30% reported that they experience anger, fear or guilt

16% receive psychiatric care either in the past or have received it in the past with treatment focusing on experiences from their military service

12% have taken or are currently taking antidepressants or anxiety medications

38% drink alcohol quite frequently

8% of all respondents drink alcohol frequently