The Other 91%
For my entire life I knew that I wanted to serve in the army. My home in Toronto always held an Israeli mentality despite the fact that we had moved from Israel to Canada, where I was raised. Growing up I had constantly heard stories about my father and his friends' service and knew that one day I would enlist. In March of 2015, that dream became a reality; a very interesting reality.
My army service so far has not been the most typical - far from it. I began my training to become a combat soldier in the Netzach Yehuda battalion of the Kfir brigade. Two weeks into my training, I suffered a serious injury and was dropped from the unit to be sent to a non-combat position. After 5 months of unit transfers, medical leave and exceptionally slow treatment (which I am still undergoing), I was fortunate enough to be placed in a very good position.
Many people look at combat soldiers and think that they are the heart and soul of the army. They go through rigorous training, protect our borders, and defend us in times of war. They are heroes without question, but few realize that they only make up approximately 9% of Israel's military. So, what about the other 91%? I was upset when I was dropped from a combat unit, however, I have come to learn that the army is like a movie. You see the actors on the screen, but what would a movie be without a film crew working endlessly behind the scenes? I have witnessed first hand the importance of non-combat soldiers, the backbone of the IDF, whose dedication to their country is deeply intense. There is no such thing as an unimportant position in the IDF and where ever you end up you will contribute greatly to the State of Israel.
I will not sit here and tell you that it will be easy, because it will not be. But I can tell you that I will be worth it. You will be pushed to your limits both physically and mentally. They will try and break you down, take away any motivation you have. Don't let them. Remember that you were so motivated to serve your country that you were willing to leave everything behind to do it. Remember that your friends, your family, and the Jewish people have your back and will help you with anything you need. Seriously, I posted on Facebook several weeks before arriving that I was coming to Israel as a Chayal Boded and was looking to rent an apartment in Beit Shemesh. I received 1 response about an apartment and another 16 inviting me for shabbat and asking if they can do my laundry and cook for me. Lone soldiers have amazing support from many organizations such as Here Next Year, Chayal El Chayal, and the Lone Soldier Center just to name a few. The term lone soldier is defined by the IDF as a soldier who's parents reside outside of Israel. But, you will never be alone. The entire country stands with you, and on behalf of all of her citizens I thank you for your service and wish you luck.
Yoni was born in Jerusalem and grew up in Toronto. He came to Israel the year after high school to be an intern at the Jerusalem Post and volunteer first responder for Magen David Adom. He came back the year after and did a pre-army program called Lev LaChayal with Yeshivat Lev Hatorah. He is currently serving in the IDF.