President Reuven Rivlin hosted for the first time soldiers with disabilities from Special in Uniform program.
Special in Uniform, a signature program of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to integrate Israeli youth with disabilities—mental and physical—into the IDF to serve alongside their fellow countrymen and women. Today, a proud partner of Jewish National Fund, Special in Uniform is working toward its goal to “ensure that the army is a place for everyone. A distinctive aspect of SIU is that it pairs the soldiers with positions, units, and commanders to ensure that their service is meaningful and effective. Throughout their service, Special in Uniform soldiers receives life-skill lessons and are provided with career assistance and placement to ensure a smoother transition into civilian life.
The President spoke emotionally to the ‘Outstanding Soldiers’: “I’m very proud to welcome you and I’m very proud to salute you, each one of you is an IDF soldiers who deserves salute. You are changing the fabric of Israeli society, helping create a more caring and inclusive society in Israel by promoting Inclusion of people with disabilities in the IDF on a national level.”
IDF Major Ricki Golan who is serving as a leader in the program said, ”Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach says, ‘All that a child needs is one adult who will believe in them,’ – I had two people who believed in me: my parents!
“When I was born my brain was deprived of oxygen. As a result, I developed cerebral palsy, and couldn’t walk.
“My mother didn’t listen to the doctors who told her that I would never walk.
“My father, a four-star brigadier general Nati Golan z”l, who served in the Six-Day War and the Yom Kippur War, and received the nation’s highest honor bestowed upon soldiers – from him learned determination and purpose and to never let my physical disability diminish my love for my country and my desire to serve in the IDF.
“But not everyone has an encouraging dad like I did to help them to overcome challenges and here came an organization like Special in Uniform. Today these kids have someone to advocate for them.
“It’s a privilege for me to serve as a leader on the board of Special in Uniform; It gives me even more pride to be an officer in the IDF “The IDF is the only army in the world that recruits people with disabilities. This acceptance has an impact on Israeli society as a whole.”
In attendance at the event was Military Assistant to the President and Director of the president’s Military Office, General Boaz Hershkovitz. leaders of JNF-USA.
Russel Robinson, CEO of JNF told the soldiers: Each one of you is a testament to the fact that the IDF is outstanding, not because of its force, but because of its spirit and inclusiveness. Thank you for allowing us to be special human beings and to be part of your life, to celebrate you as part of the IDF. So from all of us in the USA – we salute all of you.”