IDF paratrooper Joseph Brikman, a Crown Heightser who overcame personal hardships to join the IDF and now helps haredi youths connect with the IDF, wrote a Facebook post discussing the recent ceremony during which he received his red beret.
“Most of my life till this very day is a life filled with different types of pain.
I was physically abused and left in pain wondering who I was.
I was verbally abused and left in pain stinging from the things said to me.
I was always taunted for being overweight and left in pain wishing I wouldn’t wake up the next morning so I wouldn’t have to keep enduring it.
I was struggling with my beliefs and religion and left in pain wondering where I belonged.
My dad got sick with cancer when I was 13 and I was left in pain watching him go from the dad I had to the dad I once knew.
Living in a car homeless left me in pain feeling like I wasn’t worthy of even the basic things in life.
I watched my first business get stolen from right in front of me and that left me in pain hoping it was all just a bad dream.
I had people who I thought were friends and business partners double cross me leaving me in pain wondering if I’d ever be able to “do life right”.
I kept hoping there was a better side to all of this. A way to just have some freedom, and not constantly feel broken.
Eventually I figured out that pain is a matter of perspective.
I could continue feeling sorry for the sad excuse of a person looking back at me when I looked in the mirror,
OR I could sit down and figure out a way to take ownership of my life and relationships and build myself up to the person I wanted to be.
I decided to build out a roadmap for who I wanted to become and be remembered for and as of yesterday I am proud to have checked one of my biggest goals of 2019 of the list.
Yesterday I completed the 65 kilometer “Beret Journey” which lasted over a span of 13 hours and finished in “Ammunition Hill” the site of one of the hardest battles in Israels history.
A personal symbol of the battles I’ve been fighting.
A symbol of personal peace.
A symbol of communal hope.
This is the final March of advanced training as a paratrooper.
Everyone who completes it moves up a rank and receives the coveted “Red Beret” given only to the elite members of the unit upon graduating the “Recruit stage”.
I’m officially a Tzanchan!
What couldn’t have made this more special was last three kilometers.
My mom flew in with my grandparents to come celebrate with me!
She walked with me to the finish line and the smile on her face beaming with pride made all of the pain worth it.
Happiness is achievable.
For some it’s easy, for me it’s work.
I picked myself up from the pit I called life and made the decision to make something of myself on my terms, for the sake of my own happiness.
I started from the bottom, and won’t stop till I get to the top.
I’d like to thank each and every one of you who keep giving me the courage to keep pushing, and the good vibes to keep going.
I started on this journey in the pursuit of my own happiness.
Today, I won.”