One of the most amazing things about the Israel Defense Forces - and what you never hear about in the news - is how it serves as a great equalizer for Israeli society. Due to the Israeli education system being separated by both language and religious observance, different groups in society often do not mix at all as children. Suddenly, in the IDF, you have rich and poor, center and periphery, right-wing and left-wing, religious and secular, native born Israelis and new immigrants, Jews, Bedouin, Circassians, Druze, and even some Haredi Jews and Christian and Muslim Arabs, all serving together and learning to rely upon one another. But there is another group that hardly anyone ever talks about: young people - from all these various communities - with special needs.
Israel has a program called "Special in Uniform" which helps young adults with physical and mental challenges to be able to serve in the IDF just like anyone else. Not only does it give them a sense of belonging, pride and accomplishment, but they serve as an inspiration to all the other soldiers on base.
Now this program is being adopted by the US military. Israeli advisors will be helping to tailor the Special in Uniform program to the US situation; the US version will be called the Corps of Honor.
As a tour guide of Israel, who served in the IDF, whose father is a US army veteran and has had family serve in the US military all the way back to the Revolutionary War, I am incredibly proud that we have this program here in Israel and that we are able to share it with the US (and hopefully other countries around the world as well). We are told in the Bible to take care of the "widow, the poor and the orphan," aka the vulnerable in society [special needs wasn't specifically mentioned but I think it was implied]. Today, not only are we taking care of them, but we have found a way to help them take care of us as well.
For more on the Special in Uniform and Corps of Honor program, check out the articles, sites, video and photo gallery below...
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