I was asked by my Casualty Officer, Noa, if I would be willing to give another talk to some officers. This time it would be to a group of officers like her.
Young women who take responsibility for wounded soldiers as well as the families of those soldiers who fall during their service.
I jumped, metaphorically, at the opportunity.
I was being given the chance to directly influence the people who may be the difference between a lone soldier being lost to the ether for 20 years or maintaining contact and helping them get through the difficult transition from lone soldier to lone disabled veteran.
The officers were attentive and considerate. They asked wonderful questions. And they learned.
I told them my story. About my decision to enlist and how I got hurt. How I was forced to overcome the loneliness and pain without any guidance or support from the military. And how my position as a lone soldier made the transition from soldier to veteran even more difficult – with not family support, poor Hebrew, and no-one seeming to care.
And i could see in their eyes the responsibility I was placing on their shoulders.
That it would be up to them to make sure that my story does not repeat itself.
That it would be up to them to step in and make sure that any lone soldier in their unit is not just transferred to the defense department but is given the comfort and caring that a family provides when a soldier is wounded.
And that this doesn’t just apply to the lone soldiers who get hurt during combat, but those like me who get hurt during training.
I tried to give them a peek into the mindset of the gung-ho lone soldier. The diehards who will push themselves even when they shouldn’t. The ones who don’t always know when or how to ask for help.
And i hope i taught them something about the leadership along the way. About how leadership isn’t the rank on their shoulder but the care and guidance they give to the soldiers they will find under their wing.
How their leadership will directly impact the future of the soldiers who face a life unexpected and unplanned. A life that is very different than anything they could have imagined.
And how they may be the difference between life and death for a soldier who feels alone.
I told them about the pain I face every day. How travelling to give this talk exacerbated the pain. And how my meeting them and getting to be there to give depth and meaning to my pain was worth it. Worth every bounce, bump, and jolt along the way.
If my talk helps one lone soldier it was worth the pain.
It was a pleasure to meet these young officers. I look forward to the next time I get an invite to give a talk to a military unit.