"The courses we took in the pre-discharge seminar were great. They even taught us how to write our resumes in Hebrew and interview for jobs. Afterwards, I was all psyched to be released," Ari Blatt, discharged combat soldier.
December 21, 2009 / 4 Tevet 5770
Every year, motivated and idealistic young Jewish adults from around the world choose to leave their families and their homes to serve in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and start a new life in Israel. Many do not speak Hebrew and are not familiar with Israeli culture and have no support system in their new country.
Upon discharge from the army, these soldiers have no families to return to. They must immediately find a place to live, decide on higher education or career path and find a job to support themselves.
The multi-faceted "Wings" program, a joint initiative of the Jewish Agency and the Merage Foundation, gives these lone immigrant soldiers support and guidance before and immediately after they are discharged.
Through a five-day pre-discharge seminar, soldiers learn about their civilian entitlements, including national insurance payments, medical insurance, taxes and college scholarships for new immigrants. They participate in workshops on job market trends and higher education opportunities, and develop personal and interpersonal skills that help them in their job search.
After the course, each soldier receives career counseling and testing, financial advice, personal guidance and counseling sessions, and follow-up and support from Rotary Club members.
The Wings program provides every lone combat soldier with an immediate "Landing on their Feet" grant of $500. This assists them with their initial living expenses until they receive their discharge grant from the army.
In a recent evaluation of the program, 84% of the participants said that they felt less confusion and lack of direction after they completed the seminar and received individual guidance and counseling.