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IDF Builds Bridge for Troubled Youth

The IDF worries more than just about training the cream of the crop. A special “Wings” project helps troubled youth find their way.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 12/6/2011, 9:45 AM

Maintenance at Hatzerim base (illustrative)
Maintenance at Hatzerim base (illustrative)
IDF

The IDF worries more than just about training the cream of the crop. A special “Wings” project helps troubled youth find their way.

The Israeli military has tailor-made programs for many sectors in society – girls, hareidi religious men, immigrants and also youth from broken homes and with criminal records. The aim is not only to make them into good soldiers but also to help them get off on the right foot when they finish their army service and become full-fledged civilians.

The “Wings” projects at the Hatzerim Air Force Base, five miles east of Be’er Sheva, vies the youth the opporutnity to work on aircraft maintenance and glider flying to instill values, knowledge and motivation to serve in the IDF.

"It gives teens a way of life and makes them feel welcome," said Lt. Viam Kara, a flight inspector at Hatzerim. Every Wednesday, the Hatzerim Airbase discontinues routine activity and enables a group of teens coming from broken homes and difficult backgrounds to fly gliders for the past year and a half.

"Giving, contributing and accepting are commonplace values at our base," said Lt. Kara. "The project is beneficial for both the troubled teens and the soldiers at the base."

The IDF created an unprecedented project in 1979 to provide troubled teens with the opportunity to turn their lives around through a meaningful IDF service, which often is the last chance for many teens to pursue higher education and thus a more successful future.

Through this project, thousands of soldiers were given the chance to complete their education, serve a meaningful army service, become active in the community and contribute to society.