Sergeant Segev faced many difficulties in his teenage years. Today, he serves as a mentor to IDF (Zahal) soldiers in need of help.

Sergeant Segev’s high-school years were anything but typical. By age 18, when most Israelis begin their military service, he was exposed to an environment of drugs and alcohol. When it came time for Sgt. Segev to join the military, the IDF (Zahal) determined that he suffered unique problems and exempted him from required military service.

The military’s decision surprised Sgt. Segev. Determined to serve his country, he decided to appeal the exemption. “It was very important for me to serve,” he recalls. “I had always been a delinquent and a problem child, but I was convinced that the military could change me.”

After a significant amount of time and effort, he convinced the IDF (Zahal) that he was fit for service. The military enlisted Sgt. Segev and offered him some of the support he would need to overcome his challenges.

A Soldier’s Triumph: from Tough Childhood to Excellence in the IDF

IDF (Zahal) soldier Sergeant Segev

Embarking on a journey to recovery

After formally enlisting in the IDF (Zahal), Sgt. Segev entered basic training with other troubled soldiers. Although his transition marked a major victory, he knew that rebuilding his life would be a long and difficult journey. “There were ups and downs, incredible improvements and very difficult times,” he says of his experience.

Sgt. Segev was initially daunted by the structured environment of the military, but he remained determined to build a new life. “During those three months of basic training, I really invested in myself,” he says. “I put everything into the experience that I wanted to get out of it. The training helped me tremendously, and it was certainly the key to getting out of my old life.”

Sgt. Segev’s progress was evident to everyone around him. At the end of basic training, his commanders awarded him with the honor of exemplary soldier. A short time later, he participated in tryouts for the Paratroopers Brigade and was offered a role as a combat soldier.

A Soldier’s Triumph: from Tough Childhood to Excellence in the IDF

Giving back to soldiers in need

Although many soldiers dream of becoming paratroopers, Sgt. Segev ultimately turned down the coveted opportunity. Instead, he requested a position as a mentor on a training base.

“The experience I had in the military made ​​me want to give to others,“ Sgt. Segev explains of his decision. “I wanted to make my mark on this place. I knew that I’d be able to talk to young soldiers in trouble because I had been there too.”

After Sgt. Segev finished first mentoring position, the IDF (Zahal) assigned him to a number of similar posts across Israel. In his current role, Sgt. Segev works with soldiers from disadvantaged backgrounds, including recruits from immigrant families. He helps many of these soldiers integrate into Israeli society as they work to overcome serious problems.

A Soldier’s Triumph: from Tough Childhood to Excellence in the IDF

“I try to connect with these populations. I try to open up their doors at the beginning of their military service,” Sgt. Segev says. “Most importantly, I learned that the IDF (Zahal) gives these soldiers a chance that they wouldn’t receive anywhere else. The military does everything for these young people by providing mentors who set them on the right path.”

On several occasions, the IDF (Zahal) has recognized Sgt. Segev’s extraordinary work. Since joining the military, he has earned five honors of excellence  – including special recognition from the commander of the IDF (Zahal)’s Education Corps.

Sgt. Segev believes that his experience can serve as an inspiration for others. In honor of the new year, he offers a powerful message for young people across the country. “Get involved, and never say that you’re not capable,” Sgt. Segev says. “The military is a unique experience; it’s something special that you can not find anywhere else. Every citizen of the State of Israel is like a building block. Every citizen must give something to his country.”