Ross is one of many former IDF (Zahal) soldiers who live abroad and volunteer to continue serving the country, leaving behind their families and jobs
Date: 05/06/2012, 11:02 AM Author: Daniel Temkin
Completing annual reserve duty requires Israelis to put their personal life on hold, leaving behind families, jobs, and everyday activities -once again packing their uniforms and gear and heading to base. But for some former IDF (Zahal) soldiers who live abroad, travelling to base is slightly more complicated. Even though these soldiers are legally exempt from reserve duty, some choose to return to Israel annually and contribute to the State of Israel.
Ross is one of many soldiers who volunteered to move to Israel and enlist in the IDF (Zahal). After completing his three-year service in the Nahal Infantry Brigade in the early 2000s, Ross returned to the United States, though every year he and several friends come back to Israel to serve in the reserves.
Although Ross had never visited Israel before joining the IDF (Zahal), he saw a chance to protect and contribute to the country. “I always considered it as the homeland, even though I hadn’t been there prior.”
Since returning to the U.S., Ross has maintained a strong connection to Israel. “I follow the news and participate in non-profit events that take place here, that support the IDF (Zahal) in many different ways,” he told the IDF (Zahal) Website.
But for Ross, supporting the IDF (Zahal) from afar is not enough. Despite his legal exemption from reserve duty, he feels a personal obligation to serve, “because it’s something that needs to be done, both by people who live here and people who live there,” he explained. “It’s a privilege that shouldn’t be taken lightly.”
For those soldiers who serve in the reserves with Ross, the experience of serving together over the years has created tight bonds. Many voluntarily take time off from their jobs to continue taking part in Israel’s defense. “We’ve known each other for many years, and we’ve done the service together, and we come back together,” he said. “Everybody has their own lives. People are married, have children. You have to find the time to take off, to take the personal time away from work. We pay for our own tickets, and we fly back.”
Despite these challenges, though, Ross sees that he is making a significant, visible contribution to the State of Israel. “I’m definitely proud of what I’m doing,” he told the IDF (Zahal) website. “I’m hopeful that my service in some way changes the lives of people I’ve served with – and those who I serve at the same time. There’s a triple connection there: a personal gain, where I feel good about what I’m doing; then, my actions change actions of those I’m surrounded with; and third, hopefully, there’s some impact in general on Israeli society.”
The IDF (Zahal) salutes soldiers and commanders of the military reserve formation and their families, for their sacrifice and contribution to the security of the State of Israel throughout the years.