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Army vet with PTSD who self-immolated begins communicating again

Itzik Saidyan receives visits from Religious Zionism MKs, singer Aviv Geffen; brother hails ongoing recovery, thanks doctors and country for prayers

IDF disabled veteran Itzik Saidyan. (Facebook)
IDF disabled veteran Itzik Saidyan. (Facebook)

The condition of a former soldier with PTSD who has been hospitalized since April after self-immolating in an act of protest has further improved, with his family and others reporting that he is now communicating.

Itzik Saidyan was visited at the hospital Tuesday by Religious Zionism MKs Bezalel Smotrich and Ofir Sofer, as well as singer Aviv Geffen, who published a photo of himself standing at the edge of the 26-year-old’s hospital bed.

“The fact that Itzik woke up and is communicating is a miracle, and Lydia his mother asked that we all continue to pray for his healing,” Smotrich tweeted.

Saidyan has been hospitalized since April following his self-immolation 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.

He remains in serious condition, but has been gradually improving since being brought out of a coma late last month, his brother Avi told the Kan public broadcaster Tuesday.

“Itzik is a warrior and he fought for every citizen in the country and everyone owes him a debt. Don’t stop praying for him,” Avi Saidyan said.

Over three months ago, Sheba Medical Center reported that Saidyan was able to breathe by himself.

 

 

Saidyan’s 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 Shuja’iyya, 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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