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RIWC_PARA_A045 Israel Learning Disability soldiers

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A045 Israel Learning Disability soldiers

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RIWC_PARA_A045 Israel Learning Disability soldiers

  1. 1. Becoming a soldier: The process of inclusion of individuals with ID in the military Dr. Shirli Werner Paul Baerwald School of Social Work and Social Welfare, Hebrew University RI World Congress, Edinburgh, October 25-27, 2016 Research funding: The Shalem Fund for Development of Services for People with Intellectual disabilities in the Local Councils
  2. 2. • Current legislation and policies advocate for full and effective social inclusion and community participation. • In Israel, military service is a mandatory and normative civil obligation. It is integral for integration within the Israeli society. • Military service plays an important role in the social status of individuals. • However, adolescents with ID are usually exempt from military service. This brings about loss of self-esteem and feelings of exclusion for individuals and their families. Background
  3. 3. Equal in Uniform Since 2007, the project “Equal in Uniform” has brought to the recruitment of individuals with ID. Project phases Training course. Volunteering. Military recruitment. Dismissal. Project partners: (1) Akim Israel (2) Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services (3) Israeli Defense Forces
  4. 4. Equal in Uniform Aims (1) Opportunity for people with ID to enlist and complete regular and meaningful military service. (2) Enhance self-esteem and confidence. (3) Psychological benefits to other family members. (4) Change in societal attitudes towards individuals with ID. Rationale: (1) Allow people with ID to take part in this central life experience according to their abilities and needs. (2) Bring contact between people within the Israeli society.
  5. 5. 49 qualitative interviews with 31 individuals with ID Discussion topics: - Experience at the military recruiting center. - Difference between “volunteer” and “soldier”. - Role in the military. - Relationship with other soldiers and commander. - Meaningful experiences. - What they least enjoyed. Methods
  6. 6. Results Phases in the process of identity development: 1. Expectations stage: Initial socialization 2. Uncertainty stage 3. Realization stage
  7. 7. Expectations stage: Initial socialization • “Slowly you get used to what it means to serve in the military. I've never been there, so I don't know. I mean, apart from the boot-camp, even though I was wearing a uniform, it's not the same. Boot-camp is a preparation. “ • “I would meet a new commander and friends, I will learn things, whatever the commander tells me I'll do, I don't do what I want. The military is a big responsibility. I will need to wear the uniform, take the military badge and leave on time, so I won't be late.”
  8. 8. Uncertainty stage: A liminal identity • “I don't even know if there's a date for my recruitment. I don't know. It's not easy. We don't even know if we get recruited, you know? I don't even know if I go to the recruitment base in Be'er Sheva or in Tel Hashomer. I don't even know what job I will be given. I don't know.” • “I am waiting for service. I am very much looking forward to this. I already want to be recruited. This is my dream and I want to feel like a real soldier. Not a fake soldier. I came here to contribute to the country, to be a real soldier.”
  9. 9. Realization stage • "I'm not a volunteer anymore... I'm now a real soldier, I'm not a toy soldier." • “I help them file forms, I organize the paper shredding and many more things, arrange the laundry, I throw the garbage. When there's a lot of work, I stay to help them till late hours.“ • "They are very satisfied from my progress at work... they notice what I do, I do with love; I do anything they require of me. I don't just do anything I feel like."
  10. 10. Conclusion • Inclusion of individuals with ID in the military allowed them to deal with issues of identity development. • Gradual socialization into the military was helpful to slowly integrate individuals into their new roles and identity. • Inclusion specifically within the military is important given its centrality within the Israeli society.
  11. 11. Conclusion • Military symbols were found to be important forces in identity formation by acting as ‘proof’ of the new identity. • Receiving ongoing positive input from others for their success was important for identity development. This finding supports previous research showing that how an individual is perceived by others in society is key in identity-formation.
  12. 12. Conclusion • Findings support the Social Role Valorization theory in that individuals experience benefits by holding socially-valued roles. • Findings support studies showing that one of the main motivations to serve in the army is the wish to fulfill personal needs and develop personal meaning. • Findings support previous studies showing that job-site experiences and productive work are important defining characteristic for individuals with ID.
  13. 13. The Equal in Uniform Project

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