Joe Rasmussen, 22, a lone soldier who immigrated to Israel from Australia, will soon conclude his basic training with the Nahal infantry brigade. This would not be interesting where it not for the fact that Rasmussen has already completed basic training — in the Australian army, where he served for over a year.
Joe Rasmussen and his sister, Yiska – Photo: Courtesy of Rasmussen family
“When I was 17, I enlisted in the Australian army and served as a combat soldier in an infantry unit,” said Rasmussen, whose family lives in Queensland, in northeast Australia. “After 13 months of service I debated what to do and decided to request my release and sign up for a Birthright trip to Israel.”
This trip changed the course of his life, prompting Rasmussen to decide to move to Israel, which he did over a year ago. He now lives on Kibbutz Kfar Hamaccabi in northern Israel.
“I felt I needed to contribute to the security of the country. I understood that a strong Israel and strong Israel Defense Forces are the guarantee for safety for the Jewish communities around the world,” he said.
With that, it was his 21-year-old younger sister, Yiska, who first made the courageous move to Israel, and now serves as a lone soldier in the air force.
“I understood from her that everything was fine in Israel and that’s how I came, with the knowledge that as an experienced combat soldier from the Australian army I could bring added value to the army in Israel,” said Rasmussen.
Indeed, Rasmussen showed this added value very quickly: “I don’t need to learn how to use a weapon or how to charge an enemy. The combat experience I gained in Australia I share with my friends. I respect and understand them because I already know what it’s like to be an 18-year-old basic trainee.”
Tzvika Levy, the Lone Soldier project manager for the IDF in the Kibbutz Movement, said: “Joe and Yiska broke a record. They are the 999th and 1,000th lone soldiers adopted by the kibbutz movement. They decided to make their service in the IDF their top priority, despite the immense difficulties involved in leaving behind a family in far-off Australia. Congratulations to them.”