IDF welcomes soldiers with disabilities into Special in Uniform program

Today hundreds of youths with physical and mental disabilities have been successfully assimilated into the IDF's Special in Uniform Program.

By JERUSALEM POST STAFF
May 8, 2019 19:16
2 minute read.
IDF welcomes soldiers with disabilities into Special in Uniform program

IDF Special in Uniform commencement ceremony. (photo credit: Courtesy)

In a heartwarming commencement ceremony at the Ramat David Airbase, Special in Uniform volunteer recruits were welcomed into the program and the IDF, being "praised for their determination and perseverance."

"Special in Uniform is a revolutionary program incorporating youth with disabilities into the IDF. Throughout the years, the program has taught hundreds of young people with physical and mental disabilities new skills and abilities while imbuing them with pride in themselves and their abilities and enabling them to function independently and contribute positively to society," read a press release.

One of the speakers of the ceremony was non-commissioned educational officer Sergeant Ori Salmon, who was born blind but insisted in serving in the IDF and the State of Israel. She described how she was raised on tales of Israeli heroism and love of Israel - values her parents instilled in her as a young child. Wednesday, she received the Presidential Medal of Excellence.

“Both my elder brothers, parents, and extended family all proudly served the IDF, and they all recall this period as a very special and wonderful time in their lives,” related Salmon. “I never perceived my blindness as an obstacle to joining the IDF. I never imagined that I wouldn’t be able to give what I yearned to share with my country and people.

“When I first arrived on base though, I did secretly harbor a fear of the unknown. I wondered how I would be accepted by my peers, and if I would be suited to a military framework? Today, after a year and a half of military service, I can say with confidence that it is not only an excellent opportunity to contribute one’s utmost to society, but also an opportunity for personal growth. I was accepted on base with open arms, and I really enjoy the service and opportunity to meet people. I’m gaining incredible life experiences, and I bless you all that you should enjoy the same comfortable acclimation and meaningful, enjoyable service," Salmon said.

Salmon has never allowed her disability to limit her life: “When people see me acting normal instead of pitying myself, they also treat me as an equal,” she explains. "There are always challenges and hardships; life isn’t a piece of cake, but we need to be optimistic and look ahead. If there’s ever something that frustrates or aggravates me, I still do my best not to reach the point of self-pity. It’ll be hard—that’s for sure. But it’s still possible to cope with any challenge.”

Today hundreds of youths with physical and mental disabilities have been successfully assimilated into the IDF's Special in Uniform Program.

“These youths are strongly motivated to serve, and they invest their maximum capabilities to the army.  A significant number eventually enters the army as full-fledged soldiers, as well, which is a magnificent achievement both for them and for Israeli society," said Lt. Col. (Res.) Tiran Attia.


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