“We went into Lebanon as kids and came out as men. The fact that I almost lost my life has made me love life all over again.”
Vladimir Tokarev is a courageous young man who was critically wounded in battle.
Vladimir was born in Siberia and is an only child. Leaving his family in Russia, he made Aliyah at the age of 15. Vladimir loved Israel long before he even set foot on her soil. “My choice of Israel was motivated by Zionism,” he says.
In Russia, Vladimir was a long-distance competitive ice skater. When he came to Israel he continued training in Kiryat Shemona. He could easily have accepted the status of “Only Son” or “Excelling Athlete” and been given a safe job in the army, close to where he was training.
That was not Vladimir’s way. He chose to serve in a combat unit as a paratrooper.
When he was called up to defend Israel in the Second Lebanon War (2006), he went with pride, but he was also “scared to death.”
In the height of battle, in the middle of a hostile village, Vladimir’s company commander was hit by a sniper.
“We came to rescue him, five of the most experienced combatants. We threw smoke grenades and created a smoke screen… we remained there to continue fighting. Some 30-40 missiles were launched at us…”
Vladimir was hit by a missile that landed just a metre away from him. He heard the explosion and felt as though he was being “blown in all directions.”
Knowing there were hostile forces all around him, and hearing the sounds of battle through a haze of pain only increased his suffering and fear as he waited to be rescued. It took an endless and agonizing eight hours for Vladimir to be evacuated.
“Eight hours of never-ending internal pain… yet, not one thought about dying crept into my mind. You want to live but feel so helpless… We went into Lebanon as kids and came out as men. The fact that I almost lost my life has made me love life all over again.”
Vladimir’s arm was crushed. Shrapnel penetrated his lower back and tore the entire width of his intestines.
He underwent seven hours of complicated surgery to repair his wounds, and spent many months in the hospital. Once discharged, Vladimir began his long road to recovery and started his rehabilitation treatments at Beit Halochem in Tel Aviv.
It has not been easy. In addition to the physical injuries Vladimir has endured, he suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome and recurring nightmares of this horrific encounter.
Vladimir’s sheer determination, along with the help, understanding, companionship and support of the Beit Halochem staff and all the friends he has made there have enabled him to rehabilitate. He is now studying Aeronautics and Space Engineering, while still continuing his therapy and activities at Beit Halochem. Vladimir has found his way back to leading a full and productive life.
It is your generous support of Beit Halochem Canada, Aid to Disabled Veterans of Israel that helps to make all of this possible for Vladimir and so many others like him.