Israeli Military Open to Volunteers with Medical Issues

(USA Today) Michele Chabin - Unlike other armies, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) encourages young adults with a wide range of medical disabilities - from diabetes and cystic fibrosis to Asperger's and cerebral palsy - to volunteer for active duty. The IDF annually accepts 850 volunteers with serious medical conditions. About 300 of them, ages 21 to 24, are in a program called Special in Uniform that places them in military jobs "compatible with their abilities that prepare them for the labor force," said Yossi Kahana, director of the Task Force on Disabilities at Jewish National Fund, which helps operate the program. "Being able to volunteer helps people with disabilities integrate into society, and society benefits." Erez Orbach, 20, an American-Israeli officer-in-training, was one of the four soldiers killed in a truck-ramming attack in Jerusalem on Jan. 8. Yechiel Schlesinger, Orbach's personal physician, said the young man challenged the IDF's initial refusal to accept him, even as a volunteer. "He had a severe hematological condition that caused recurrent anemia and crises....When he asked, I wrote letters to the army explaining that he was capable of being a volunteer and then an officer cadet," the doctor said. "If those of us who helped him get into the army hadn't helped, he might still be alive, but he was so proud and he wanted to serve. This was his dream."

2017-01-20 00:00:00

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