Thousands of former combat soldiers receive student scholarships thanks to international donors

Date: 12/11/2009, 1:48 PM    

Excitement was felt in the air at the Frederic R. Mann Auditorium in Tel Aviv, when on Wednesday evening (Nov. 11) hundreds of donors, regular and reserve soldiers and senior IDF (Zahal) officers from the past and the present, arrived to honor the donors and the combat soldiers participating in the IMPACT scholarship program.

This year, 2,500 student scholarships of 4,000 $ were given to discharged combat soldiers, totaling 40 million NIS, in the framework of the program. Until this day, 170 million NIS worth of scholarships have been given out as part of the program, which has been run for the last eight years by the Friends of the IDF (Zahal) (FIDF (Zahal)) and the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel’s Soldiers (AWIS).

The program helps to finance bachelor’s degrees for combat soldiers who cannot afford it themselves. In return, the students have to do community volunteering service in various charity organizations. Since the beginning of the program, IMPACT sponsored students have contributed one million hours of volunteering.

“We are proud of you and love you”

The audience cheered as the Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi entered the stage. “This evening reminds us that there is no one who deserves the appreciation of the Jewish people in Israel and worldwide more than the IDF (Zahal) soldiers, it fighters and commanders,” said Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi. “These scholarships have the objective of offering you an academic education, a necessary condition for the success and the cultivation of your future, and the future of the entire Israeli society.”

The Chief of the General Staff emphasized: “There is great importance to the society cultivating combat service as a fitting norm,” and explained, “The goal is that every combat soldier that finishes his military service will receive a student scholarship.”

The President and founder of the Friendship Fund, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein said that, “IDF (Zahal) combat soldiers are the spearhead of Israeli society and they sacrifice their best years in the civil service. The least we can do for them in return is try to help them build a better future with the acquisition of academic preparation.”