Support for Golan Heights soldiers urged

An organisation representing soldiers serving on the Golan Heights is demanding that a specialist team be sent out to help them cope with the stress of being under fire by Syrian insurgents.

The Permanent Defence Forces Other Ranks Representative Association (PDForra), says it is time the independent monitoring group’s recommendation to provide greater personal support services access to the military is implemented.

In particular, it wants this support provided to the 140 troops serving with the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force on the Golan Heights.

The troops had been due to leave the area last week, but that was postponed because they were moved into more secure camps. They are now due home on October 7.

Speaking at PDForra’s 23rd annual conference in Sligo, Gerry Rooney, its annual secretary, said the soldiers needed to see experts who could deal with stress, now, rather than later.

“The personal support services access provide excellent services to address stress arising from serious incidents and those serving with UNDOF find themselves in this situation following the recent incidents,” Mr Rooney said.

He said the provision of timely stress-relieving services would represent professional recognition of the very difficult circumstances the soldiers have endured.

He said some troops returning from the last UNDOF mission in Golan had shown signs of post traumatic stress.

“In the immediate future, overseas UN missions will become more unpredictable in nature and the greater availability of the PSS to address stress in these circumstances will be important to those involved, their families and the Defence Forces,” said Mr Rooney.

He said his organisation want a personal support services unit on standby from now on.


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