Deaf combat intelligence soldier awarded IDF officer’s stripes

Second Lieutenant ‎Shira Kochavi, 22, was born deaf. In the first few months of her life, her parents noticed she did not respond to noises and voices, and examinations demonstrated that Kochavi was deaf in both ears. At the age of nine months, Kochavi underwent an operation that improved her hearing slightly, and she grew up with impaired hearing and a slight stutter. From the time she started school until it was time for her to enlist in the army, she used a hearing aid.

“There were two types of service open to me — serving as paramedic or an officer for female soldiers,” Kochavi says.

“I passed the entrance exam for the paramedics [course] and was even given a draft date, but then I decided to choose second option of being an officer, which called out to me more,” she says.

At that stage, it was made clear to Kochavi that she might have to shelve her dream of serving in the IDF.

“The female officer’s training required the highest possible medical profile,” Kochavi says. “After the army medical exams, I was assigned the lowest profile because of the operations I’d had, and the army wanted to send me on my way. They said I might be able to volunteer, nothing more. Someone else might have given up, but not me.”

Two years ago, Kochavi enlisted and signed on for a combat role in the Combat Intelligence Collection Corps, and last Thursday was awarded her officer’s stripes after completing officers training.

“My parents and my big brother were at the ceremony and filled with pride,” she said. “I’m telling all the soldiers who want to fulfill a dream to serve in a combat role and aren’t allowed to, don’t give up! Especially women, for whom it’s easier to move into office work. If you believe in your path and your goal, fight for it, and you’ll definitely succeed, just like I did. That’s my message.

“It’s clear to me I’ll go far in the army. It’s a career for me, not a passing episode. I put everything I had into it, I made it to female officers training and finished. At the end, I felt an incredible sense of pride, and I’m so happy and joyful. My immediate goal is to be a company commander of female combat intelligence fighters, but I won’t finish my service as a captain or a major — I’ll go on and go far.”