A Lone Immigrant Soldier Serves his Country with Pride


"I came to Israel on my own to serve my country, to protect the nation. When You have faith deep inside, and know that what you're doing is right, that Makes your life easier," - Vladimir Milner

Vladimir Milner, 22, had a very bright future in Moscow He was an excellent student with strong prospects and a secure outlook. But at the age of 17 he left family and friends to come to his homeland alone. His Zionist upbringing drew him to Israel. "There was never a question about whether I was going to make aliyah:' says Vladimir. "It was just a matter of when."

Vladimir came on the Jewish Agency's Selah academic preparatory program for high school graduates from the former Soviet Union. During the 10 -month program he lived at the Ulpan Etzion Absorption Center in Jerusalem with other young people from around the world. "I would recommend Selah to all Jewish young people like myself. It helps you build a new life in Israel and learn how to make Israel your home."

Upon completing Selah, Vladimir was accepted to the program for international relations at the Hebrew University. However, before embarking on his university studies, Vladimir chose to serve in the Israel Defense Forces. He is currently with the border police in Bethlehem, guarding the border between Jerusalem and the Palestinian Authority.

Though Vladimir, like thousands of other lone immigrant soldiers, struggles to make ends meet financially and is still in the process of acclimating to a new country and a new language, he serves Israel with determination and pride. He receives assistance through the Jewish Agency's Fund for Lone Immigrant Soldiers. This includes subsidized calling cards to speak with family in Russia, electrical appliances and a preparatory course for returning to civilian life toward the end of each soldier's service.

"I came to Israel on my own to serve my country, to protect the nation. When you have faith deep inside, and know that what you're doing is right, that makes your life easier. Israel is where I am going to build my future."

Most recently, the Jewish Agency brought Vladimir's mother to Israel for a week-long visit to be with her son through its Keshet program. "It was so emotional:' explains Vladimir, who was one of fifteen soldiers selected for the special program. "For a mother, it's so very hard to let go and send your child across the world," Vladimir explains. "But my decision to come here was out of Zionism and love of the land, and my parents really respect that. So we are in touch all the time and they are always interested in what's happening with me and in Israel."

"My dream is to work in the field of Zionism. To help people love Israel and make aliyah."

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