My name is Barak Lynn. I am 24 years old and a soldier in the IDF.

I was born in Israel and moved to the United States at 12 years old. I always wanted to be a soldier in the Israeli military. I can’t say that I feel like a volunteer because for me it’s an obligation, not a matter of choice. When I was 17, both of my parents thought since I had the opportunity to get a college education, I should not give it up. However, the thought of joining the military stuck.

When I reached my final year of college, I decided that I would not give up on my duty as a proud Israeli and Jew. I would move to Israel and join the IDF. When deciding which unit I wanted to join, I took advice from some of my father’s friends. I remember sitting down with a guy who started his career in the Golani Brigade. He asked me, “What is the reason that you want to join?” I answered, “To work hard and help defend my country.” He told me it’s Golani or nothing. 

Golani is the first combat brigade the military put together. It’s probably the most famous brigade since it fought in every single war and battle Israel has ever been in. I am proud to say I got accepted into one of the two commando units in Golani, called Sayeret Golani. The training is rough and longer than the regular eight month training. It’s a year and four months. We specialize in counter terrorism throughout the country. I am one of three commanders in my unit and am in the process of completing commanders’ course. 

Life in the military is amazing. It teaches you a lot about yourself and brings out mental powers that you never thought you had. The friendships are everlasting. After sleeping in the same tent you eventually learn everything about your brothers, from knowing what they like to eat to their most personal thoughts and feelings. There is a famous saying, “I would take a bullet for you.” In this case, that is what you are trained to do. 

I am happy to say that I am not the only Lone Soldier in my unit. I am one of three Americans who decided to join and there are many more throughout the brigades. It is an honor to serve in the IDF and to have the opportunity to stand up here and talk about my experience. I can honestly say I would not change my decision because now I feel complete.

Thank you FIDF. You gave me the opportunity to come here. And thank you to all of you who help support us and thank you to my amazing family and friends, who have supported me throughout this process.

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