MembersThe IDF Experience Through the Eyes of Israeli Soldiers

The difficulties of service and getting back to civilian life

By Oriel Moran | | Topics: MESSIANIC JEWS, IDF
The IDF is an intense, all-encompassing experience for young Israelis, many of whom are unsure what to do with themselves afterwards.
The IDF is an intense, all-encompassing experience for young Israelis, many of whom are unsure what to do with themselves afterwards. Photo: Gili Yaari/Flash90

In Israel, army service is mandatory for all. Right out of high school, when the rest of the world’s societies are planning their studies and careers, 18-year-old Israeli teenagers leave their homes to protect their country of nine million citizens.

On being drafted, all are given the same khaki uniform, leaving civilian life behind. It is a crash course into adulthood into a well-oiled army machine with responsibilities and a motto of self-sacrifice – a blunt end to one’s carefree teenage years. As of 2022, men serve two years and six months, and women do two years.

I personally do not have a post-army experience because I wasn’t well enough to serve in the first place. Giving a post-suicidal, phobia-ridden 18-year-old a gun isn’t the wisest idea, so they didn’t (don’t worry, I’m better now).

Failure to serve your country is considered taboo. The shame I felt for being different from the rest was a real struggle as army service is the quintessential patriotic contribution.

Soldiers draft eager to serve, but many find themselves burnt-out...

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