President Reuven Rivlin with Special in Uniform soldiers. (Mark Neiman/GPO) (Mark Neiman/GPO)
Special in Uniform

“All of Israeli society benefits from your service,” Rivlin told a group of IDF special needs soldiers.

By: United with Israel Staff

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday hosted at his official Jerusalem residence young Israelis with special needs who volunteer to serve in the IDF through the “Special in Uniform” program.

Special in Uniform integrates young people with special needs in the IDF. Since 2014, over 650 young people have served in the IDF through this program in 35 different bases.

Understanding the significance of enlistment in the IDF in Israeli society, the IDF has created unique programs for special needs people, including tracks for the vision impaired and those on the autism spectrum. The young people contribute to the IDF’s mission in a range of different jobs, and are supported by the program’s professional staff throughout their service.

“The IDF is the people’s army. We have a diverse population, and the IDF must be diverse and include difference within it,” Rivlin declared.

He congratulated the IDF, “which has proved it is able to enlist everyone who can contribute.”

“It is a privilege, as well as an obligation, to do everything we can to share the burden in every sphere of life, including in the IDF,” the president underscored.

Addressing the special soldiers, Rivlin noted, “Your enlistment in the IDF, benefits not only you. It benefits commanders ,the IDF, and all of Israeli society.”

You Are Heroes

“Special in Uniform shows us that we can overcome limitations, but that we need a hand to do so. I want to thank your families in particular – parents and other family members – and the commanders who support and appreciate you,” he concluded.

Maj-Gen (res.) Gabi Ophir, chair of the Special in Uniform association, expressed his pride in “these outstanding young people, who represent another 400 of their friends [in the program], all of whom are outstanding and all of whom are heroes.”

He explained that the unique program creates a “space for young people who have completed special education and suddenly need to find their place in employment and society. We have proved that integration into the IDF is the best way for young people to prepare themselves for independent lives.”

Ophir also looked forward to the expansion of the program to include “hundreds more young people with special needs who want to take part.”

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