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'The Only Person Who Decides You Can't Is You'

Members of special IDF Unit 9900 (Photo: IDF)

Stand for Israel loves to share with you the many ways the Jewish state is different, one of which is how Israel not only utilizes, but embraces, its people who have disabilities. The IDF shares this heart-warming story of how young people on the autism spectrum have found a place in an invaluable military unit:

Even though Cpl. A. was diagnosed with Asperger's at the age of 16, there was no doubt in his mind that he would still serve in the IDF. "I was exempt from military service, but I wanted very much to enlist,” says Cpl. A. “I felt obligated to those who had protected me all these years.”

After searching for an IDF program for Cpl. A., his family found "Seeing Far"- an innovative program designed to integrate adults on the autistic spectrum into professions within the IDF where they have a relative advantage. These include: decoding aerial photographs, informatics, QA software, electronics, and optoelectronics.

Cpl. A. serves through the program "Seeing Far," in a key role in Unit 9900. He works in a unique department of soldiers with Asperger’s whose heightened perceptual skills are an asset.  In this role, soldiers collect visual information from the field and decode aerial photographs, which helps create a comprehensive intelligence picture of the area.

"The hardest thing for me is to feel ineffective," he says emphatically. "I know that if I look at something long enough, I’ll understand it. I won’t give up. I'm the type of person who doesn’t stop. I knew that if I enlisted, I would do a full service. There’s no way that I would decide to give up and be released. This isn't an option for me..."

Cpl. A.’s spirit comes from home. "My mother was discharged from the Intelligence Branch," Cpl. A. reveals with a smile. "I'm not arrogant, but it's special to follow in her footsteps..."

Tags: IDF

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