Soldiers Face a Tough Battle with Gluten

1 Nov
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Kicking Ass AND Gluten Free

I came across a rather fascinating article in the Israeli newspaper: Haaretz Daily. For those that may not know, Israel has a requirement that all able bodied men AND women be drafted and serve a set period of time as soldiers within the Israel Defence Forces (IDF). I’m not quite aware of all the issues that would or could defer a young man or woman from serving–but it would make sense that it would be for such things as severe asthma, severe chronic diseases, etc. As I was going through the article, I find that a rather peculiar problem is now being encountered.

Combat units refuse to take celiac patients who volunteer for the Israel Defense Forces due to “logistic” problems supplying appropriate, gluten-free food – in direct contradiction of army directives forbidding rejection of soldiers who have the disease. IDF sources admit the problem exists and explain that they cannot guarantee suitable food in field conditions. However, a celiac patient serving in such conditions told Haaretz: “There’s no problem getting along with battle rations.” In the past, all celiac patients were exempted from army service, until 2008, when an effort was made to draft them. After a number of soldiers complained of unsuitable food, the policy was again altered and at present, the IDF drafts only celiac patients who express a will to volunteer.  At first, celiac patients were allowed to serve in combat units that guaranteed a supply of gluten-free food, but soon after, all combat units were informed that they could not reject celiac patients because of logistical difficulties in supplying the right food. However, Haaretz has learned that various combat units still refuse to supply proper food, thus, in effect, rejecting celiac patients…

So the issue is:

  1. Soldiers with Celiac Disease can volunteer but they will not be automatically drafted.
  2. The IDF is not able to logistically supply–ie, feed CD soldiers that do volunteer.

So the brave soldiers that do end up volunteering are probably spending more time in the bathroom than on the gun range! (Yes, I know that Celiac Disease manifests beyond just GI issues). Joking aside, this is indeed a serious problem. If a large organization such as a Tier I army is unable to properly provide stable GF rations to their soldiers–what hope is there for us mere mortals that spend time walking up and down the aisles of Trader Joe’s or Better Health? What hope do we have that smaller organizations such as schools or offices be able to provide proper gluten free meals when required?

The answer, sadly, at the moment is still: NONE.

It is important that the CD community work as a whole, so that we could and should be able to expect that kids, loved ones, and ourselves are eating food without the risk of complications. The idea for a nutritionally sound untainted meal should not be a mirage.

———-

HAARETZ.COM has a paywall. As such, I’ve posted the article below. All copyrights remain with the HAARETZ on the article below.

Contrary to orders, IDF combat units refuse to accept celiac patients
Celiac sufferers are exempt from service, but may volunteer. But combat units won’t take them.
By Gili Cohen | Oct.30, 2012 | 12:58 AM

Combat units refuse to take celiac patients who volunteer for the Israel Defense Forces due to “logistic” problems supplying appropriate, gluten-free food – in direct contradiction of army directives forbidding rejection of soldiers who have the disease.

IDF sources admit the problem exists and explain that they cannot guarantee suitable food in field conditions. However, a celiac patient serving in such conditions told Haaretz: “There’s no problem getting along with battle rations.”

In the past, all celiac patients were exempted from army service, until 2008, when an effort was made to draft them. After a number of soldiers complained of unsuitable food, the policy was again altered and at present, the IDF drafts only celiac patients who express a will to volunteer.

At first, celiac patients were allowed to serve in combat units that guaranteed a supply of gluten-free food, but soon after, all combat units were informed that they could not reject celiac patients because of logistical difficulties in supplying the right food.

However, Haaretz has learned that various combat units still refuse to supply proper food, thus, in effect, rejecting celiac patients.

One such soldier was told officially by the IDF that he cannot be accepted by the Givati Brigade due to logistical problems. The soldier insisted, and was then told that “the disease cannot be a reason for not being stationed in a particular unit. If they claim that it’s because you’re a celiac patient, it is in contradiction to proper conduct.”

IDF sources said a problem indeed exists, and that the soldier was refused because appropriate food could not be guaranteed. Still, another combat soldier suffering from the ailment told Haaretz: “I get along fine in field conditions. The battle rations include tuna and stuffed vine leaves, and I eat more of these, or concentrate on vegetables. Actually, It’s harder to find suitable food in the base than in field conditions.”

In September 2011, a celiac patient seeking to enroll in the Israel Air Force flight academy was refused, but after appealing the decision was accepted to the academy.

Celiac patients can choose between receiving a monthly allowance of NIS 500, or five gluten-free meals and two gluten-free loaves of bread per week. The IDF Spokesman said: “The issue is being examined and the problem does exist. Staff work is carried out at present with the intention of guaranteeing the supply of suitable food to all army units. Due to the partial details supplied by the journalist, we cannot comment on the specific case.”

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