Monday, May 24, 2004

Going through the army as a "lone soldier", I was very aware of the role that the family plays (or in my case, didn't) in the life of a soldier. Every Shabbat is eagerly anticipated, food parcels prepared, visits are made to bases and ceremonies; in short, the family will do anything that it can to make the life of their soldier easier.

I am currently having to prop my eyes open as a result of having fulfilled the role of caring family member to a soldier last night. My fiancee's brother, currently serving in an elite unit, was allowed out of his base for his best friend's wedding in Jerusalem on condition that he was able to make it back the same night. The base, to the South of Beer Sheva is a 2 hour jaunt, which, thanks to my fiancee's flagrant disregard for the speed limit, we managed to do in an at times frankly terrifying 1 1/2 hours.

It's a role that I'm not unfamiliar with; when a previous flat mate was in the army I played Mum, washing his uniforms and even ironing clothes on occasion. Do those amongst our society who put their lives on the line on a daily basis deserve any less?

That he was let out at all, perhaps reveals something of the way in which the army works. The army which I served in took as its credo the idea that a happy soldier will perform his duties to the best of his ability and therefore, wherever possible, soldiers should be able to join their friends and family in celebrating their simchas. There is no need to leave uneccessary soldiers to guard the base over Shabbat - far better to send the boys back to their parents to be pampered and fed and have them return to the base refreshed on Sunday morning.

The lack of sleep was for a very worth while cause. Our soldiers should be rewarded far better for their toils. Where this can't be done officially, it befalls the ordinary citizen to do his bit.


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