Thursday, February 02, 2023

(Courtesy of Special in Uniform) Twenty-six percent of adults in the United States live with a disability, and according to the Centers for Disease Control, “Including people with disabilities in everyday activities and encouraging them to have roles similar to their peers who do not have a disability … involves more than simply encouraging people; it requires making sure that adequate policies and practices are in effect in a community or organization.”

A program that is quickly gaining the attention of U.S. officials is Jewish National Fund-USA’s Special in Uniform, an innovative program that integrates young people with autism and other disabilities into the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and, in turn, into Israeli society. After their service, Special in Uniform helps usher its graduates toward a self-sufficient life, through employment or other meaningful societal involvement, once they are discharged from the army.

The program is led by Lt. Col. (Res.) Tiran Attia. Over the course of his distinguished 28-year career in the Israel Defense Forces, Lt. Col. Attia commanded a tank, the IDF’s Technology and Logistics Forces training program, and the Sar-El program for army volunteers from around the world.

A similar program called The Corp of Honor in the U.S. is being spearheaded by the former chairman of the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities (PCPID) in the U.S., Chris G. Neeley. The Corps of Honor will begin at the South Carolina Army National Guard.

While Special in Uniform soldiers serve for a limited time like other Israeli soldiers, the National Guard is a part-time auxiliary, supporting anything from traffic control to emergency evacuation. Therefore, Corps of Honor participants can serve indefinitely, while leveraging their new skills in the civilian workforce.

Join JNF-USA on Monday, February 8, at noon ET to learn how Special in Uniform gives IDF graduates the opportunity to fulfill their potential by integrating into the workforce and Israeli society in meaningful ways, regardless of any disability. To register, visit www.jnf.org/beyondthebluebox. For more information, contact Jacqueline Yehudiel, director, northern New Jersey at [email protected] or 973.593.0095 x823.

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