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Roy Milstein

Director of Mentorship

Growing up in Israel, the idea of soldiers, guns, uniforms, and the portrayal of chaos on the media was part of daily life. One of my earliest childhood memories is the image of soldiers walking through the streets of Tel-Aviv. After my family moved to the states, we still managed to visit Israel frequently, and the summer of 2006, when the 2nd Lebanon War broke out, was no exception. As a 12-year-old boy who lived in Boston, MA, seeing this conflict unfold made me realize how different this world was from my day to day life in Boston. Seeing how The State of Israel rose to support its’ protectors in the fight for the existence of our homeland, engraved a very powerful message in my mind. The idea that one day I would be that soldier on the front-line, protecting my people, with the unconditional support of a whole nation behind me, gave me direction. After high school I moved to Israel and enlisted into the IDF.
In March of 2013 I joined Palchan Tzanchanim, a special forces unit under the Paratroopers Brigade specializing in explosives. The decision to become a combat soldier was obvious. It was my turn to serve.  Making this decision as a teenager, I didn’t fully understand the extent such a move would play in my life. My 16-months of training proved to be one of the most memorable periods of my life. To see a team of 20-individuals, from all facets of Israeli culture, come together to defend Israel’s existence, further solidified my fascination and love for this country. In the summer of 2014, after I finished training, flashbacks to 2006 came about when Operation Protective Edge in Gaza began. This time I wasn’t an outsider, but rather a soldier. With the Jewish nation supporting me, I helped protect the well-being of this country and its’ people. As this operation brought heavy emotional pain, it only strengthened my urge to act and give back.

Throughout my service I had always enjoyed reading books about the Holocaust. My teammates would often ask me why I was so infatuated with these stories, and I was never sure how to respond. After getting released from the service, I began my studies, during which I received a scholarship from the Heseg Foundation. Through this scholarship I was able to take part in a delegation to Poland. During this journey, I discovered the answer to my teammates’ question. I am so intrigued to learn about the Holocaust because of those who made it their mission to survive. These individuals, who were the great grandparents of the teammates that stood by my side during Operation Protective Edge, are the reason I was able to fight for the Jewish People. Their will empowered me to keep moving forward and to stand up for what I believe in, and this is why I am a part of Growing Wings. I want to help the generation of tomorrow realize the importance of their service and its effect on the continuity of The State of Israel and the Jewish people.

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