We all know a lone soldier. Whether it’s the kid from your early Hebrew school days who made Aliyah, the inspirational Israel activist from high school, or the determined counselor from camp who always seemed to have Israel on her mind, we all know somebody who left the comfort and safety of their lives to join the Israel Defense Force.

I am privileged to know three people, three of my best friends, who have answered the call. I won’t mention their names, however, I hope that their anonymity can serve as a sort of composite character-a representative for all of those who sacrifice their safety in order to defend the Jewish state.

This letter isn’t about politics, religion, philosophies or ideologies. Instead, this letter addresses real people who endanger their lives to serve. Even though I’m writing this letter with three specific people in mind, I direct it toward every lone soldier in the IDF.

To my friends in the IDF:

I worry for you. I really do. I wake up in the morning and immediately check my Twitter feed for The Jerusalem Post and HaAretz updates. I read the newspapers and watch the conflict unfold on TV, hoping that the fighting is far away from you. In many cases, it’s not, and I tremble at the fact that you might not be safe.

I cannot imagine what you’ve sacrificed. Aside from the obvious, like your friends, family, safety and security, you’ve given up things most people don’t even consider. I can’t go and visit you at college, I don’t see you at summer parties, and I haven’t been over your house for dinner in a really long time.

I think about the fact that you’re a lone soldier. You didn’t grow up in a conscripted society where everybody eventually joins the military. Instead, you grew up in a nation completely disconnected from its own militaristic realities, a society that too often undervalues and underappreciates its soldiers. You have done something most people don’t understand, no matter how hard you try to explain it to them. I couldn’t imagine confronting these issues; I have no idea how you’ve done it.

To my friends in the IDF, know that I —we—miss you more than can be conveyed in words. We try our best to express feelings of gratitude, of worry, and of love, but our efforts fall short. Nothing we can do or say will ever live up to your actions.

To my friends in the IDF, we love you. We think about you all the time. Please stay safe, and please come home as soon as possible.

Yours truly,