I was drafted into the Golani Brigade of the IDF – a 19 year old American knowing very little Hebrew and not knowing another person in my brigade. That was undoubtedly one of the hardest challenges of being a lone soldier and a new immigrant. Unlike Israeli-born soldiers, lone soldiers usually do not speak fluent Hebrew, which makes it harder to make friends, to understand commands, and to feel comfortable just being yourself and speaking out when needed.
Although I ran in to some difficult times during my service (I have a vivid memory of arriving home after three long weeks on base, only to find out that our electricity was shut off due to some technical complications), I was lucky enough to receive assistance from a variety of lone soldier organizations.
For roughly six months, I lived in an apartment without a washing machine. This wasn’t because my lone soldier flat mates and I were lazy or could not afford to buy one, rather it was because we had no time. We would get home from base on Friday afternoon, and return Sunday morning. Thankfully, we received a brand new washing machine (free of charge!), which I am happy to say is still in that same apartment being used by a new generation of lone soldiers who switched us.
One of the things that I most appreciated as a lone soldier was the help and assistance I received from those generous individuals throughout the world who wished to make a lone soldier’s IDF service a little easier.