Everyone needs a break now and again, even Israel Defense Force (IDF) soldiers. Though the IDF recognizes the added benefits of giving combat soldiers a well-earned vacation, this costly perk is beyond the Israeli army’s budget.
That is where LIBI, the official fund of the IDF, steps in. “24/7 IDF soldiers are required to be responsible for the security of the State of Israel, the safety of their comrades and the well-being of Israeli citizens,” stated Dr. John A.I. Grossman, LIBI USA Chairman. “Twice during the three years that a combat soldier serves, we provide them with five days of 24/7 rest and relaxation.”
The benefits of downtime, especially when faced with continuously stressful situations, is well documented. Taking a break brings better physical health, more productivity, deepened relationships, new perspectives, increased mental power, protection from burnout and improved mental health.
“We need and want all of our soldiers to perform at their maximum capacity,” continued Grossman. “The IDF and LIBI recognizes that soldiers gain so much from these breaks.”
Two hotels are earmarked specifically for IDF vacations, both located on beaches. One is in southern Israel, in Ashkelon, and the other is in northern Israel, in Givat Olga.
The Givat Olga hotel has two sections. One is solely for full battalions and the other is exclusively for families of fallen soldiers. LIBI subsidizes these family getaways to show its support and recognition of those who paid the ultimate price for serving Israel.
Soldiers clear their minds and soothe their tired bodies by enjoying good food, swimming pools, the beach, the gym, entertainment, and trips to interesting places in Israel. Soldiers do not wear their uniforms for the duration of the time off and nothing military is discussed.
LIBI provides 100% of the funding for about 40,000 IDF combat soldiers per year to take these all inclusive vacations. One week costs about $63,000 for a battalion of 500 soldiers.
“LIBI works in conjunction with the IDF. We provide the funds through donor contributions and the IDF provides the soldiers with the time off,” smiled Grossman. “Full battalions, including their commanders, get together to recharge their batteries. It’s like an all-expenses-paid Club Med vacation.”
Sponsors for the entire five-day holiday are recognized with a customized sign at the hotel for the duration of the soldiers’ vacation, and grateful soldiers send sponsors thank you notes and pictures. Sponsors also receive a personal invitation to join the IDF soldiers for the vacation. Should the donor participate, no doubt, a thoroughly enjoyable time with Israel’s finest fighters will be the highlight of their trip.