After improvements, condition of army vet who self-immolated worsens slightly

Doctors rule out visitors for Itzik Saidyan for two weeks while they try to determine what caused his condition to deteriorate

Screen capture from video of IDF disabled veteran Itzik Saidyan talking about his struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder. (Channel 12 News)
Screen capture from video of IDF disabled veteran Itzik Saidyan talking about his struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder. (Channel 12 News)

The condition of a former soldier with PTSD who has been hospitalized since April after self-immolating in an act of protest has worsened slightly, two and a half weeks after he regained consciousness, it was announced Wednesday.

Due to the change, Sheba Medical Center has decided that Itzik Saidyan will not receive visitors for the next two weeks. He is currently undergoing tests while doctors try to determine what caused the deterioration.

No details were provided on what had changed in Saidyan’s status. The setback came after a period of improvement, with his family and others reporting that he had begun communicating.

Despite the improvements, he has remained in serious condition with concerns of potential infection from his wounds.

Saidyan set himself on fire outside the Petah Tikva offices of the Rehabilitation Department for disabled soldiers, after years of struggling to receive the care he requested for post-traumatic stress disorder, which he said stemmed from his service in the Israeli military.

Saidyan began breathing by himself months ago and was brought out of his coma last month.

His self-immolation has brought the Defense Ministry’s treatment of wounded veterans under intense scrutiny.

According to the IDF Veteran’s Association, Saidyan was frustrated over his treatment by authorities. He was recognized by the Defense Ministry as having 25 percent disability from his post-traumatic stress disorder, but had requested 50% recognition. The ministry had refused, saying at least a portion of his condition was due to childhood trauma, not his military service.

Saidyan served in the Golani Infantry Brigade during 2014’s Operation Protective Edge. He participated in fighting in Shejaiya, a neighborhood in Gaza City that saw some of the fiercest clashes in the conflict

Veterans and their advocates have long maligned the rehabilitation department as providing woefully insufficient care and subjecting applicants to a bureaucracy so convoluted and torturous 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 for years been considering but lacked the political will to carry out.

In May, the government announced that it reached a compromise on a Defense Ministry plan to reform treatment for wounded veterans.

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