Four soldiers with special needs were indicted into the Israel Defense Forces in a special ceremony this month.
The IDF program called Special in Uniform in conjunction with JNF-USA and Lend-a-Hand to a Special Child, integrates people with mental and physical disabilities into the army to make meaningful contributions to the state.
“Now I’m on my way to realizing new and more ambitious dreams," said 18-year-old Shachak Shriki of Kiryat Ono who is on the autistic spectrum.
Special in Uniform includes a three-month course on occupational skills to teach disabled young adults to function independently and contribute to society in a positive way. The four soldiers were assigned tasks that fit their abilities at Palmachim air base.
Deb Kaufman, the mother of 22-year-old Roi Kaufman, attended the ceremony and was very impressed with the sense of self-esteem the program imbued in her son. "He’s spent the last year on Palmachim Airbase working for information systems, kitchen duty and deliveries, she said, noting that Roi has a mild form of mental retardation and suffers from VCF syndrome, but worked hard to complete his special training program. "His lifelong dream was to be a soldier, to know that he could contribute to society like everyone else." his mother added.
The ceremony was held at the IDF's main induction center where they received their official IDF ID cards. The ceremony took place near the Jewish holiday of Purim and Yossi Kahana, director of the Task Force on Disabilities at the Jewish National Fund, noted the significance. “Purim is a time of joy, of celebration and miracles, a time when our nation was united. Special in Uniform is a phenomenal initiative, unmatched anywhere else in the world, and it highlights the exceptional unity and compassion of our nation," he said. "For all us here today, this is a very special and joyous occasion. The fact that these kids are standing here today, full-fledged soldiers in the IDF, is nothing short of a Purim miracle."