The IDF (Zahal) program, “Roim Rachok,” geared towards integrating soldiers on the autism spectrum, has expanded to the Ordnance Corps. “These men embody extraordinary visual memory and a great desire to learn and work in the best possible way,” said Major Yitzchak, Commander of the Optotronic Company.
2016 marks a new beginning in the IDF (Zahal). The Ordnance Corps welcomes its first eight volunteers on the autism spectrum. This new addition is part of Roim Rachok, the “Watching the Horizon” program, in which the IDF (Zahal) invites young men and women on the autism spectrum to serve in its different branches. After rounds of testing and interviewing approximately 70 candidates, eight men were chosen to be a part of the program that began in November 2015.
“It’s amazing to see the progress in these men,” said Maj. Yitzchak. “They come on the day of their interview, shy, hardly understanding the wires and tools in front of them. Today, they are working just like their peers beside them.”
As a part of the initiative to better assimilate these volunteers, they learn social skills along with specialty skills. They attend recreational yoga classes in addition to learning how to go about routine activities such as riding a bus. Four of them are drafting to optics and four to electronics. Fixing wires and molding cord coating are skills that are easily integrable to any electrical field. The hope is to make the volunteers as comfortable as possible in a normal workplace, both in and out of the army.
June 30th will mark an important day for the future soldiers, the day they wear their IDF (Zahal) uniforms for the first time. “I just want to be like everyone else,” said Omer K, one of the future recruits in the group. “I am very excited to put on the uniform.”
Furthermore, the project gives hope to their parents. As most of their children’s peers are serving in the IDF (Zahal), this program gives them equal opportunity. The pride the parents feel as their children serve side-by-side with their peers is something they never imagined. The program opens doors for the families and for the future of Israelis on the autism spectrum.
Maj. Yitzchak added, “The project creates a beneficial environment for both the volunteers and the IDF (Zahal). The proteges receive occupations for life and we receive experienced, efficient, and motivated workers.”