Veterans of an Israel paratroop company that fought in Lebanon more than two decades ago received an urgent appeal for help yesterday.
The appeal came from the former company clerk, now a suburban working mother. She sent 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. He seeks loans, not gifts.
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.
A local business operator who was also a paratrooper in Lebanon in the mid-1980s expressed hope that by now some of the people from that unit have made enough money to bail out their buddy. This is probably not the case, though. The amounts needed approach $90,000.
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 others from that company were making their way in the civilian world, 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. He owes money to four Israeli banks. These banks have lately been spending handsomely on advertising to convince us that they are friendly and helpful to customers, but this will not lessen their insistence on putting him out of business next week.
Declaring bankruptcy is not an option for him. He intends to stay in his community and raise his children there.
That's the problem, in a nutshell. So, dear reader, if you think you have any part of the solution, feel free to ask me how to get in touch with this brave soldier to whom all Israelis owe a lot.
---Joseph M. Hochstein, Tel Aviv
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