Emanuel and Maayan Olgin. (Special in Uniform) (Special in Uniform)

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Double amputee Emanuel Olgin joins Israel’s military dream alongside her twin sister, supported by Special in Uniform program.

By Pesach Benson, TPS

In a moment of unity and determination, Emanuel Olgin, a double amputee with cognitive learning disabilities, realized her lifelong dream of joining the Israel Defense Forces alongside her twin sister, Maayan.

Due to a premature birth, Emanuel battled numerous complications, including cerebral damage and the eventual amputation of both legs when she was one year old.

But Emanuel didn’t let the physical and cognitive hurdles dampen her ambition. Supported by her family and the Special in Uniform program, Emanuel held steadfast to her dream of serving Israel. While Maayan works in the army’s Medical Corps, Emanuel was assigned to a war reserves logistics unit at a Home Front Command base.

“As one who spent my life growing up with a twin sister with disabilities, I more than anyone can attest to the enormous challenges that Emanuel has faced and surmounted throughout her life,” Maayan said. “I’m so, so happy for her now that she finally feels like an equal.”

The Special in Uniform program is a collaborative initiative of the Israel Defense Forces and Jewish National Fund-USA that focuses on integrating young people with physical and mental disabilities into the military and Israeli society. Around 1,000 Special In Uniform soldiers from communities across Israel are serving in 45 bases in all branches of the IDF.

Their mother, Miri Olgin-Gettenyu recalled the day her daughters received their letters from the army on the same day. “When we opened them, my heart sank, because one contained a call-up order for Maayan, while the other, an automatic exemption for Emanuel,” she recalled.

The family’s efforts to find a pathway for Emanuel to serve led them to Special in Uniform.

After months of advocacy and perseverance, Emanuel’s acceptance into Special in Uniform was celebrated in a poignant ceremony at the Home Front Command Army Base. Surrounded by family and friends, Emanuel donned an IDF uniform and officially became a volunteer soldier. The dog tags and Bible traditionally given to recruits were personally presented by Maayan.

“Seeing the closeness and unity between Maayan and Emanuel, twins who grew up in the same house, but with such different conditions and challenges, both in uniform and finally serving together, was deeply emotional and inspiring,” said Lt. Col. (res.) Tiran Attia, Director of Special in Uniform.

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