She's a combat soldier – no more, no less
Whoever thought motivation to enlist in military low as of late can look at different reality in story of Walda Boldesko. At 22, she reached Ordnance Corps, which few women have done. Conditions are harsh, fighting is dangerous, but she insists on doing it 'with all my heart and a lot of love'
As the chief of staff is addressing the issue of insubordination and draft dodging, there are those instilled with the spirit of voluntarism and high motivation to contribute to the army as much as possible. This week, the 7th Brigade of the Armored Corps completed five weeks of intensive training in the Golan Heights. Female soldier Walda Boldesko, 22, from Bat Yam, stood out in the 82nd Battalion of the Armored Corps Brigades.
In a dusty uniform and her hair tied back under her hat, Walda has been serving for more than a year in a position that was until recently reserved for men only. Boldesko immigrated to Israel with her parents in 1994 from the former Soviet Union. She quickly acclimated in Israel and anxiously awaited enlistment into the IDF after finishing high school.
Even though she is an only child, Boldesko asked her parents to allow her to serve in a combat unit, seeing this as an integral part of her integration into Israeli society. Her parents recognized her enthusiasm and said yes.
"The 7th Brigade has quite the legacy," she said with pride. "I succeeded in achieving a dream and in getting support and encouragement from home. I started as a staff officer in the brigade. When I got back from a course, I was glad that my third position in the IDF would be the ordnance officer of 82nd Battalion.
'We all get dusty and muddy'
The fact that the position she currently holds was mostly filled by men in the past doesn't fluster Boldesko. In her eyes, in the IDF of today there is no different between men and women, both in the level of demands made on them and in the level of their performance in the field.
"I don't see a difference between a man and a woman's military service. I need to prove myself just as much as any of the other soldiers here," she said.
Walda in the Golan. 'Everyone gets wet in the rain.' (Photo: Avihu Shapira)
According to Boldesko, many girls know that the integrating into field positions will advance their development in the military. "There is no competition of who is better and who isn't. Today a girl enlists into a combat unit and knows that all the options are open to her, even in commanding combat battalions. There are no easy breaks. In the field, we all get dusty, get wet in the rain, and get full of mud and grease. For me, it's not a cliché. You can't be a commander by remote control," she said.
The position Walda is serving in requires a lot of professional knowledge as well as proven physical capabilities and high emotional sensitivity: "I live this position around the clock. I don't hide the fact that without a good connection with the non-commissioned officers and the soldiers, I would not have succeeded. An ordnance officer is first of all someone who needs to know how to work in a team."
When the issue of draft dodging kept making its way into headlines, it was difficult not to bring up the issue. "The IDF is the best school for civilian life. You can always delay studying, a trip abroad, or other things. The experience of military service is not forgotten by any young man or woman.
"There are things you see here that prepare you for what you will experience in the rest of your life. What a person experiences in his civilian workplace is entirely unlike what he experience in the IDF. There are formative moments that give you a different perspective on life," she said enthusiastically.
From fighting in Gaza to protecting the Golan
Boldesko and those under her command took an active part in the fighting in Operation Cast Lead about a year ago. "We aided a battalion that needed our help in thorough repair of its equipment during the operation," she explained.
Her intensive work in the army does not leave her much time for a personal life outside the military. "My friends are disappointed that we don't get together a lot, even on weekends. But I get a sense of satisfaction waking up every morning with a smile on my face to start another day of instruction, training, and day-to-day activities in this position, which, in my opinion, is an important contribution."
She recently went to the Golan Heights for an intensive exercise there. "We are here in the north protecting the residents and doing what is asked of us with all our heart and with a lot of love. Hopefully we will continue only with training and not with wars," she said.
Walda's motivation and impressive achievements have reached the ranks above her, where there is much satisfaction from her work. Major Herzl Iskov, the ordnance officer of the 7th Brigade, said, "She actually is commanding non-commissioned officers in their 40s who are old enough to be her parents. Despite this, she knows how to combine command that requires staying on schedule with support and emotion. This combination gives her a huge advantage."