Photo Credit: IDF Spokeman
The Special in Uniform soldiers at the graduation ceremony. Dec. 23, 2021

The IDF witnessed a special and exciting moment on Thursday when 14 volunteers with special needs were sworn into the IDF, donned their uniforms for the first time, and received the dark green beret worn by members of the IDF’s Intelligence Division.

All the volunteers are students from the Ehad Ha’am school in Petah Tikva, and they will be integrated into the Intelligence Division’s Infrastructure and logistics Unit.

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The unit is responsible for “the development and leadership of logistics and operational solutions for the Intelligence Division, which enable compliance with operational objectives.” The unit is also responsible for “creating a supportive work environment for the individual and a high-quality and professional quality service environment.”

Last year’s class, the first, included only four volunteers. After only one year, the number has grown to 14 volunteers and the unit expects the project will continue to expand.

The unit’s commander, Col. N., said at the ceremony that while he has always moved at IDF graduation ceremonies, “today, no one is more excited than me to complete a very important part of the Israeli mosaic. I feel that now is the true whole and togetherness” with the integration of the special needs soldiers.

The IDF has a number of programs that enable the integration of people with special needs into various units, in accordance with their capabilities and special abilities.

The Roim Rachok (seeing into the distance) program provides training and assistance to Israelis on the autism spectrum who wish to enlist in the military. They serve as programmers in more than 10 units in the Israeli Intelligence Community, Israeli Air Force, and more.

Others utilize their special abilities to analyze aerial and satellite photographs in cooperation with Unit 9900.

Special in Uniform is a pioneering military inclusion program that absorbs youths with mild physical and mental disabilities, offers them extensive skills training and incorporates them into appropriate positions in the IDF, with a focus on their abilities.

In the framework of Special in Uniform, members volunteer for up to one year in the army, train and learn important skills before graduating to become soldiers and serving for another two years.

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Aryeh Savir is director of the International division of Tazpit News Agency.