Yom Kippur War Vet Helps Others with Trauma

The Fellowship  |  October 7, 2019

IDF casualty evacuated during Yom Kippur War, 1973
IDF casualty evacuated during Yom Kippur War, 1973

Forty-six years ago, Israel was attacked from the north and the south in a surprise offensive on Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. Thousands of Israeli soldiers were casualties of the war, and many more were wounded emotionally by what they experienced. The Jerusalem Post’s Inalit Chernick tells us how Professor Yuval Neria, a veteran of the Yom Kippur War, helps veterans like himself — in Israel and elsewhere — cope with the emotional consequences of trauma suffered in battle:

Prof. Yuval Neria fought in the Yom Kippur War, a battle that some believe could have spelled the end of the State of Israel.

Fought between October 6 and October 25, 1973, Egypt and Syria launched a joint surprise attack on Israel’s southern and northern borders on Yom Kippur. It took a miraculous turn of events, and assistance from the United States, for Israeli forces to push back both Egyptian and Syrian forces.

By October 24, the IDF had encircled a large bulk of the Egyptian Army and the city of Suez, which eventually led to a ceasefire on October 25. The war came at a high price. By its end, nearly 3,000 IDF soldiers had been killed and 9,000 others were injured.

For 46 years, Neria has kept the war top of mind and dedicated most of his adult life researching and helping victims of trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, war veterans and prisoners of war both in Israel and across the globe.

The Jerusalem Post spoke with Neria about his experiences in the Yom Kippur War, his work as a professor of medical psychology and his role as the head of the Friends of the Yom Kippur War Center in the United States.

Neria grew up in Holon. Both of his parents were career soldiers. He was severely injured in the Yom Kippur War and received the medal of honor – Israel’s highest accolade for military service – for his actions as a tank commander on the Sinai front…

Neria said it was his experiences and memories from the Yom Kippur War that drew him to research PTSD and trauma.

His research has been focused on “the emotional consequences of exposure to traumatic events, conducting numerous studies among Israeli veterans and prisoners of war,” both the bereaved and those exposed to the September 11 attacks in New York, and “the young adults exposed to ongoing missile and rockets attacks” in southern Israel.

He said that he is specifically studying “the brain of trauma exposed individuals, and in what way its function and structure is affected by severe threat to life…”