For Israeli youth with disabilities, the fact they can’t join the Israeli Defense Forces when they turn 18 is a massive disappointment. Now, thanks to the help of the Israeli non-profit Lend a Hand to a Special Child, youths with developmental and physical disabilities are getting the chance to take part in the military.
Unlike in America, service in the IDF is mandatory and is seen as a rite of passage and a transformative experience for young Israelis. So when these young people see their friends go off to serve, they feel left behind. That’s where this project comes in. Along with the IDF, LHSC is launching a new project called “Great in Uniform”, which takes youths with disabilities and integrates them into the IDF to help prepare them for an independent future.
The program, started by IDF Lt. Col. Ariel Almog, lasts three years and provides a very supportive environment. Participants live in their own assisted living community where they receive their own individual guidance from Ministry of Social Affairs-approved staff. The communities are located near the military facilities where they serve.
The participants are put through a four-day basic training program and then put into support operations, like cleaning, preparing protective kits, mess hall duty, and other places. The participants feel immense pride in these duties, as they’re genuinely helping out. After they’re done, the participants go on to bigger and better things in Israeli society.
Politics aside (and we will not get into politics here), we like this program. It’s a great way of integrating people with disabilities into the workforce, and it’s run exceptionally well. We can only wish the best of luck to the organizers and participants in this program.
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