My military service in the IDF was at first with the Golani Brigade. I was on the front lines with the 13th Battalion during the Yom Kippur War. I have written about it in previous articles for this publication. Many months later I was ordered to a training base. I was trained as a tank commander for my reserve duties.
I can remember clearly, as if it was yesterday, when I joined the 13th Battalion, as I entered the tent of my future squad, that I was truthfully a little surprised. There, on several of the cots in the tent, were my future brothers-in-arms, two on the same cot, talking, reading, sharing.
I soon realized that this is sometimes what front-line combat troops do. They share downtime with each other, and sometimes they do so on the same cot. So what.
I don’t know if anyone back then, in ’72 or ’73 or ’74 was gay. Or trans. Or bi. No one cared. We covered each other’s backs. We looked out for each other. We cared about and for each other, sharing packages from home, sharing letters, discussing articles from the newspapers. We argued politics. We left it all behind when the Syrian army bombarded us.
We wept together when our medic Amir bought the farm. A huge piece of shrapnel from an inbound artillery shell sheared his head off. We visited his family much later, during a lull in the bombardment. No one cared if any one of us was gay. Or trans. Or bi. No one.
During many of my tours as a reserve soldier in the armor corps we faced dangers in the Sinai and in the Gaza Strip. Again and again, on patrol on foot, or in jeeps, in small towns or along the shores of the Mediterranean, no one knew who was gay. Or trans. Or bi. And, again, no one cared. We had each other’s back. We looked after each other. We cared for each other. We were brothers-in-arms. We brought packages from home to make our lives easier. We shared family and we shared dreams and we shared sorrow.
This is what soldiers do. Soldiers who have served, and soldiers who serve do this. They look after each other. They care for each other.
What the majority of soldiers do NOT do, President Trump, is worry about who may or may not be a trans-gender troop. What most soldiers do NOT worry about, President Trump, is worry about who may or may not be gay. Or lesbian. Or bi-sexual.
In Israel, some troops are Bedouin. Some are Druze. Some troops are secular Jews, and some are religious Jews. Some are wealthy, and some poor.
Just like Israel, the US military is made up of a variety of human beings, but unlike Israel, all US military volunteer to serve their nation. From special ops and Navy Seal operators to Army rangers and quartermasters; from air force mechanics to submarine cooks, and from Coast Guard pilots to ROTC officers getting a college degree, all volunteer to serve the United States of America.
President Trump needs to realize that there is no room for discrimination in a military that defends its nation and the people who live in it. No room whatsoever.