In my office the only person who still serves in Reserves is one of the lawyers we share the space with. He serves in the unit which informs families that their loved ones are either seriously injured or dead. Two weeks ago, we joked around that if he were called in to reserves then our situation really did get serious. Today, I came into the office to be greeted by a lawyer in uniform. He was called in the middle of the night and instructed to go and tell a family that their father (and husband) was in a critical condition in hospital.
I came to Israel alone 4 years ago, yet for bureaucratic reasons I haven’t officially been allowed to make Aliya yet. I’ve often thought about what would happen if I was serving in the IDF and was injured or killed during my service. How would my parents be informed? This was more of a hypothetical given that I reasoned that a consular officer would be involved. I asked the lawyer in uniform today who confirmed my suspicion. So the families of lone soldiers are informed of their death by a diplomat from a far away country. There’s something even more tragic about that. In every other situation, the person knocking on your door would be a countryman – someone who in peacetime might be your work colleague, someone who comes from your neighborhood.
Our troops are fighting hard to defend us, and our, their, home. The outpouring of support and love shown throughout Israel and indeed abroad towards combatants on the southern front has be incredible. It’s important to remember, however, that for every soldier there’s a family waiting at home. I think this is even more important to remember in the case of Lone Soldiers when perhaps their families are more isolated from 6 million people who see their son or daughter as a brother or sister, as opposed to just a soldier doing his or her job.
So I suppose my message to any family that loses a loved one but specifically Sean Carmeli’s parents is that your son was loved, and you are loved. You might live across thousands of kilometers of oceans and sand but you are Israeli and you are loved.