20-year-old Eliran Oster, like most of his peers, dreamt of serving in the IDF. However, unlike most people in his age group, Eliran only has one arm. Nevertheless, he did not let this fact deter him from serving his country. Eliran Oster is presently teaching new recruits and is uniquely able to motivate them to achieve as much as they possibly can. His message is that any thing is possible if you set your mind to it. Eliran Oster asserted, “I am seriously thinking of going for officers training. Even without a hand its possible to serve in the IDF, people with disabilities should enlist. Any thing is possible.”

Eliran Oster is far from the only disabled Israeli who feels this way and has managed to overcome serious physical and mental impediments in order to serve Israel. Oren Almog, who became blind following the suicide bombing at Haifa’s Maxim Restaurant in 2003 that killed 16 people in addition to Oren’s father, brother, and other family members, is presently serving in the IDF in an intelligence unit. Upon induction into the IDF, Oren stated, “As someone who was hit pretty hard by terrorism I am proud to serve an organization that aims to protect the security of Israel, to prevent terrorism and to protect its residents. I want my father and grandfather to be proud of me. I was raised by them to serve; if I had not enlisted I would feel a very big missed opportunity. I am proud that I’ve decided to undertake this trying task and contribute back to the state.”

Yuval Wagner, the head of Access Israel, an organization that promotes the welfare of handicapped people in Israel, has pursued a career in the Israeli Air Force, where he is presently an officer. Even after he was confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life after surviving a helicopter crash, Yuval continued to serve in the Israeli Air Force and never gave up his dream of fighting for Israel. His principle role model is his father, Danny Wagner, who was Israel’s first handicapped pilot. According to Yuval Wagner, “My children see me and their grandfather in a wheelchair and as a result of that; they react very naturally to my disability. They are proud of me for being a pilot and for working in the IAF.”

Zohar Pe’er was one of a group of 10 autistic people who chose to serve in the IDF despite their serious disability in 2010. Zohar Pe’er’s mother asserted regarding her son, “He doesn’t show many signs, but I know […] he wants to wear the uniform.” Autistic teenagers have been able to volunteer to serve in the IDF ever since teachers at Leah Rabin Middle School in Petach Tivka, which caters to autistic teens, declared that they believed that their students were very capable of contributing to the state.

Reported by Rachel Avraham