Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A Message from a Tanker

Yesterday, something happened. I don't really know what or why. The news says that 86 young men went to start their service for the IDF and refused order to join the tank division. This is pretty much unheard of.

A few refuse each time - for one of two reasons, typically. Either, they want a more prestigious unit, want something harder, or they want something considered easier. Some want a more dangerous combat role; others don't want combat at all.

The army tries. It tests the man that comes to them and listens to the boy inside as well. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes a boy comes, all pumped up from talk with his friends, and tries out for a unit beyond his abilities - and sometimes the army catches on and forces him down; and sometimes they don't catch on and the boy moves forward.

And then months can pass and the boy succeeds or months pass, and the boy fails.

And sometimes, the unit is full and so they take their next best guess and sometimes the boy doesn't like it and the parents are mad that he didn't get what he wants.

Sometimes, they look at the boy and see all the physical problems he has had since birth, a rough birth and early childhood until a loving family took him in and filled his life with love and support. But the army looks at the boy and the disabilities and scars not remain, not the champion he has become. They think they are being kind by offering to release him without having to serve and he fights.

He goes around and gets qualified doctors and army officers and volunteers to say he is stronger than he looks in body; that his mind and soul are determined. He will fight the army...and they look into his eyes and forget the limp he walks with, the body that will never be totally normal and they agree. Fight, they tell him...they let him...and he does.

And sometimes, they look into the boy and say, fight, we will let you...and the boy doesn't want to. He doesn't want to be in a combat unit despite the gift of a body strong. He doesn't want to be in tanks because he says society looks down on tanks...

And, in some cases, the army allows female soldiers into a unit and a religious boy comes and says, I'll fight, but not in a unit with females. I won't carry the extra load - because that is what happens. Girls, women, are every bit as smart as men but they aren't physically stronger. A man can lift those heavy artillery shells; most women can't.

And a tank is a very close and closed environment and when you are in close quarters, there is a lot of physical contact and no, they don't want this. They want to fight, but not like this.

And so, for whatever reason, 86 soldiers came and said to the army - no, we won't.

And the army was surprised. It happens - perhaps more often than you can imagine. As a show of force, the army says - accept and follow orders or we will punish you.

And the soldier either gives in, or says - then punish me.

And the army looks around and says again, we'll really punish you. We'll put you in jail for a month. We'll take your phone and you won't go home.

And the soldier either gives in, or says - then punish me.

Yesterday, this is what happened for 86 new soldiers. And the army started their punishment. Who will break first - the soldiers or the army - is anyone's guess.

Perhaps their complaints are legitimate; perhaps they are not. But one soldier, one "tanker" - one honorable soldier from the tank division is angry...angry, and proud, and spread this message:

The soldier writes:

I'm not usually one that posts [to Facebook] but in the aftermath of 86 soldiers refusing to join the tank division, I could not keep quiet.

It is a great honor to serve the most powerful division in the ground forces. I am proud to be in the Armored Corps. I'm in the tank to fight (and win). Feel free to share.

And so I do - kudos to this soldier and every soldier who fights for Israel - all of them...

...those in the tank division.

...those in artillery, my oldest son and all of his brothers in Totchanim.

...those in the Kfir ground forces, my middle son and all those who served in Kfir - Chaim, BZ, and others.

...and all those who serve and served in youngest son, David, my oldest adopted son Yakov, and so many others.

...and those in the Air Force.

...and those who jump from planes and in between, like the others, work to protect this land.

...and those who man the Iron Dome system and shoot down missiles as they come towards our cities

...and those in the Intelligence units who keep our combat soldiers and our entire country safe.

...and those in the support units - those who monitor the borders, those who keep the bases stocked and safe. Those who drive and cook, those who handle the communications, those who monitor our enemies.

...and those who sing and entertain our troops, those who feed them, who launder the clothes they wear, those who stock the supplies.

...and those who help the commanders and officers so that they can focus on watching over this land.

...and those who watch our skies and those who endlessly help our soldiers by watching over their families.

...and those who rush to families when their soldiers are hurt...or worse.

...and those who stay in the lives of bereaved families, after those other soldiers brought them the worst of all news and hen quietly disappeared.

...and all those I can't or forgot to mention.

Kudos to you all - you are our present and our future and we thank you for your service.

And to the 86 - do what you must, but make sure in following your conscience, even your religious convictions, please make it clear, to serve this country in any capacity - to serve is to honor and we honor you in return.

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