February 24, 2020

Continuing to Provide Service After the Military

David Horesh’s story is one of brotherhood, Israeli chutzpah and intelligence. As he explains, “Someone’s sister goes missing in Kyrgyzstan, we hear about it. We buy a few tickets. A group of guys fly there the next day. We start working intelligence angles that we know are connected in that area.” 

Horesh and his brothers-in-arms did all of this for a man they had never met. “I didn’t know this guy, but he’s from my unit,” Horesh explained. “I had no interaction with him until he called me up.”

The unit Horesh referred to is Rimon, an elite counterterrorism unit in Israel’s south that no longer is active. After his three years of army service, Horesh helped establish and lead Rimon’s nonprofit alumni network. “Most of the elite units of the army have alumni associations,” he said. “They realize that the human capital is extraordinary.”

For many, these associations are strong support networks as these young men and women transition into civilian life, including job networking, career training, pooling funds to assist wounded soldiers and offering scholarships to alumni. 

“The military service was the best thing that happened in my life,” Horesh said. “All the lessons that I implement today, whether it’s in business or friendship or leadership, everything came from the military.”

Horesh’s parents immigrated from Australia before Horesh was born. He said they tell him all the time, “We didn’t have the network that you have. The fact that you met that caliber of human capital, that is priceless.”

“Most of the elite units of the army have alumni associations. They realize that the human capital is extraordinary.”

Horesh is just 28, but he is a leader to watch, having been one of just 120 soldiers chosen each year to receive a  presidential commendation. He’s already taken further strides by joining the board of another nonprofit, Combat Ventures, which focuses on helping combat veterans thrive in the business world, especially in the high-tech sector. Horesh calls it “the tip of the spear of the Israeli economy.” 

“Everyone who has gone to the elite units and has been the tip of the spear of the IDF (Israel Defense Forces), wants to continue to be that in their career. These people are looking to excel. The high-tech ecosystem has the most influence on Israeli society.”

However, he added that combat soldiers are at a disadvantage when entering this sector post-military service. “If I was in 8200 (an elite intelligence unit), I could explain very easily what I did in the army: I learned to code.” But translating that combat experience into business terms is where Combat Veterans comes in, by helping “bridge this gap between combat veterans and the high-tech ecosystem,” Horesh said. He encourages those he mentors to “talk about teamwork, perseverance and being able to perform in highly stressful situations.”