Srgt. Orel Even Chen is proud to send aircraft off to sorties as a technician in Sde-Dov AFB, despite being discharged from military service on medical grounds. Today he strides in his family’s footsteps and serves in the IAF despite the Type 1 Diabetes he suffers from
Eilon Tohar | Translation: Ohad Zeltzer Zubida
“I never wanted to receive any special treatment just because I am a volunteer”, said Srgt. Orel Even Chen (20), who serves as an aircraft technician in Sde-Dov AFB. “If I need something, my commanders are always there for me and have never given me a hard time for going to medical examinations, but daily, I take the pills that I need and live like any other soldier”.
Srgt. Orel has a year of service left and he has yet to decide if he wants to continue into career service or not. What he is sure of, is that he feels like he contributes to his country every day. His story begins about a year and a half ago: a few months after he began his service as an operational technician in “Sde-Dov” AFB, he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and as a result, was discharged from military service.
Srgt. Orel Even Chen | Photography: Mor Tzidon
“I told myself that no matter what, I would complete a full three years of service”, Srgt. Even Chen recalls. “Sometimes I receive reactions like ‘what are you, a sucker?’ but I am happy that I returned to my friends, to this place, to this position. Like every soldier, there are tough moments, but there are people here who have my back on everything. In my opinion, everyone should contribute where he/she can and for other service exempt individuals, I would recommend to draft and experience this. My military service made me more mature, more independent and taught me a lot about myself”.
Srgt. Orel’s love for his military service and for the IAF, is understandable. His father was a career serviceman in Hazor AFB, where he served as a penchief (HAS Commander) and was discharged at the rank of Senior Warrant Officer. His older brother is a civilian airliner pilot in the U.S, which explains his attraction to aviation and aircraft and his second brother’s combat service also encouraged him to choose the most significant service he could.
But above all other family members, the main reason for his return to service as a volunteer despite it all, was his mother. “Six years ago, my mother passed away from cancer”, shared Srgt. Even Chen. “Every mother would want to see her son draft and protect his country. When she passed away, I promised myself that I would complete my full military service and contribute as much as possible and in a way I feel like I promised it to her personally. Today I know that she would be proud of me”.