Veterans of an Israel paratroop company that fought in Lebanon more than two decades ago received an urgent appeal for help this week.
Their former company clerk, now a suburban working mother, distributed e-mails to the entire unit about the plight of one of their 1980s comrades-in-arms who recently encountered disastrous business reverses.
To keep from losing everything including his home, this ex-fighter needs to come up with lots of money in the next few days.
Soldiers who have learned to trust each other with their lives can make requests like this. He will pay back the loans after he gets back on his feet, the company clerk wrote.
This story has a particular poignancy.
What happened is this. The soldier who is in trouble today did not return to private life after Lebanon. While other members of the company were dispersing into various walks of civilian life, he stayed in the army. He served in an elite covert unit where he laid his life on the line many times.
After 20 years in the army, he took his pension and went into business, supplying doors and windows for buildings. He invested his pension and everything else he had in the business. It prospered.
Not long ago a major customer declared bankruptcy and disappeared. This set in motion a classic sequence. Now he cannot fill orders or buy new merchandise, and the banks are closing in.
Declaring bankruptcy is not an option for him. He intends to stay in his community and raise his children there.
He needs to raise almost $90,000. In response to his plight, some army buddies opened a bank account Thursday to receive funds for him. More than $4,000 came in the first day.
It is not the first time veterans of this particular unit have responded to such appeals in civilian life. They came to the unit many years ago as teen-aged volunteers, and a spirit of mutual responsibility stays with them much later in life.
This trait may not make news, but it is one of the reasons Israel's combat soldiers are a formidable group to face in battle.
---Joseph M. Hochstein, Tel Aviv