Cases 15:19 26 Feb 2024

Not alone: 5 Ukrainian initiatives that help wounded soldiers

From inclusive taxis to legal aid, Ukrainians are looking for ways to support military personnel needing recovery and rehabilitation.

What is the problem?

After being wounded, soldiers become one of the most vulnerable strata of society. Still having the duties of a servicemember, the issues of military medical bureaucracy, the lack of explicit algorithms for further actions — all this falls on the shoulders of a person who is experiencing stress from an injury, often accompanied by the acquisition of disability and the loss or decrease of functionality.

It is especially difficult for military personnel excluded from the staff — they cannot perform military service duties for various reasons (for example, due to injury), but cannot resign. They are attached to the military unit while waiting for a decision on further service, receiving minimal payments. Therefore, military personnel discharged from the staff depend financially either on their savings, on the money of their comrades, or on their relatives. It is clear that under such conditions, those who damaged their health while protecting their country need a lot of help.

What is the solution?

Today, wounded soldiers who are being treated or undergoing rehabilitation are supported by foundations, volunteers, non-governmental organizations, companies, and local governments. They provide housing and financial assistance and create programs and initiatives aimed at making life a little easier for the wounded.

How does it work?

1. Hub-hostel for the military

ініціативи для поранених військових

The free Hub-Hostel for the soldiers in Chernivtsi has ten beds and all the necessary amenities.

In western Ukraine's Chernivtsi, the non-governmental organization Tactical Group 4.5.0, founded by the Da Vinci Wolves battalion fighters, opened a hub where military personnel can stay overnight for free while undergoing medical examination.

There are many veterans or those who are undergoing treatment and are waiting for the conclusion of the medical commission. They have nowhere to spend the night: either they are not registered with a particular hospital or have already been discharged. In the hostel, they can live and wait for the commission or lab results. Not everyone can afford to stay in a hotel, but everything is free of charge here. 

Active servicemembers can use the services of the hub. Fighters from Chernivtsi and other cities or regions can spend the night in the hub. The main condition is the presence of a referral to the medical commission, examination, treatment, or rehabilitation.

The hub was set up in the premises of the former workshop in 45 days. The owner provided it for use by the NGO free of charge. Patrons brought building materials for repairs and bought a washing machine, a boiler, and a shower cabin.

ініціативи для поранених військових

The stove was covered with river stones to keep warm for a long time.

The hub hostel was equipped with ten beds and furnace heating. The organization also equipped the hub with a microwave.

There is still much work to be done — the NGO plans to make a full-fledged kitchen with a sink, table, chairs, and an electric stove. Purchasing a large TV, lockers with a lock, personal hygiene products, and towels are in the plans. The volunteers also lend a helping hand by making homemade goodies, dishes, and pastries so that the soldiers can feel the care and comfort of family warmth even in a foreign city.

To get to the hub or offer your help, you can call the following numbers: (099) 350 39 56 or (098) 345 03 97.

2. Three cases of inclusive transfer for military and veterans

Getting to a place of treatment or a rehabilitation center is often a difficult task for soldiers with disabilities. The solution was found in establishing free taxi services for the military and seriously injured veterans.

Інклюзивний трансфер

Inclusive transfer BezOmbezh.

For example, at the end of 2023 in Odesa, the pilot project BezOmbezh was launched — an inclusive transfer for military personnel and veterans who need rehabilitation and medical care and cannot move around the city and use public transport alone. This solution was initiated by the National Council for Health and Safety Protection.

BezOmbezh cars are specially equipped to work with people with disabilities. The project's initiators do not limit themselves to the transportation of military personnel only for treatment. Staying within the framework of the chosen concept, they also organize trips for veterans to the cinema, the theater, the beach, and even the barbershop.

"We are deeply convinced that the life of a person in a wheelchair should not be limited by the route home-hospital-home," explains project coordinator Alyona Makovetska. "It's sad, scary, unfair. Therefore, we consider it appropriate to take our passengers to various locations that will help a person live a full life. Positive emotions are vital for recovery."

To use the free transportation service in Odesa, you can contact the project number: +380955062553.

ініціативи для поранених військових

The Doves of Peace charity fund project "Free inclusive transport for defenders" has become an essential link in the system of support for military personnel.

A similar initiative was implemented in Kyiv in January 2024. Here, the Doves of Peace charitable foundation launched a free inclusive taxi for war veterans with severe injuries.

Yaroslav is one of the users of the inclusive taxi. He volunteered to defend Ukraine in March 2022 and was wounded in the fall of 2023 in the Avdiivka area. Since then, he has already undergone several surgeries, with more to come. At first, to get to the hospital and back, Yaroslav, who has his own car, hired a driver, who carried the soldier to the car, took him to the doctors and waited for Yaroslav to undergo procedures and examinations, and then drove him back home.

However, Yoroslav needed this service quite often, which was expensive. Recently, he learned about veteran special transport from the network. 

Unfortunately, one car is not enough for the needs of Kyiv veterans. As noted in the Doves of Peace, many people are currently willing to use special transport. Therefore, the foundation's website announced a fundraiser for ₴400,000 (around $10,400) to purchase a second special vehicle. The foundation calls on the public to join a concerted effort to support the veterans.

To order a taxi, you need to use the Telegram bot and fill out the form or contact the fund's representative at +380993976282.

Uklon та OKKO таксі для ветеранів

Uklon taxi service and OKKO gas station launched an inclusive taxi for veterans in wheelchairs in Lviv.

Lviv became the third city in Ukraine to launch a social taxi for wheelchair users. This initiative became operational in Lviv on January 23, 2024. The Inclusive Car Class service was launched in Lviv by the Ukrainian online car service Uklon and the OKKO gas station network, with the support of the Social Protection Department of the Lviv City Council. Now, veterans can travel freely in specially equipped cars, and the city will compensate them for the cost of travel. The norm for compensation payments is trips that do not exceed the budget of ₴800 per month.

Andrii Sadovyi, the mayor of Lviv, said they would start with three cars provided by benefactors. The project covers not only charity cars but also fuel. "This project is about dignity because people in wheelchairs must have the opportunity to go to theaters, cultural institutions, on business," the mayor of Lviv emphasized.

To order a car, you need to enter the desired route and select the appropriate car class. Cars of the Inclusive class are equipped with a hydraulic or mechanical lift, a ramp, special safety belts, and fasteners for fixing a wheelchair. Trips are performed by professional drivers who have also undergone training in communication and interaction with people with musculoskeletal disorders.

Uklon reports that they fulfilled 16 orders from 10 users in the first week alone.

3. Rehabilitation and socialization

The Lviv City Council agreed on a program to support the military and families of fallen soldiers, allowing them to visit fitness clubs in Lviv for free. After all, in many cases, moderate physical activity is an integral part of the rehabilitation process. The program will operate during 2024 and 2025. 

The program reimburses gym expenses: military personnel and family members of fallen military personnel will have special monthly subscriptions. The fitness clubs themselves cover part of the cost, and the rest is paid directly by a servicemember or family member of the deceased. At the end of the month, the Lviv City Council sports department will reimburse the money spent on social accounts.

Currently, more than 20 locations in different districts of Lviv have joined the program, so there will be enough places for everyone. However, there may be grounds for refusal to participate in the program, such as open wounds or wounds in the healing stage, the need for constant medical support, or contraindications of doctors.

ініціативи для поранених військових

Presentation of the rehabilitation and socialization center for veterans, "Those Who Walked Through the Fire."

In Zhytomyr, officer-psychologist Serhii Tvardovskyi founded a center for the rehabilitation and socialization of veterans called "Those Who Walked Through the Fire."

Tvardovskyi served for 15 months in the second battalion of the first special forces brigade named after Ivan Bohun. 

"The idea arose when I was serving. A veteran is a person who has long enough adapted to the high probability of death. They trust only their own, those with similar experiences, those who walked through the fire," Tvardovskyi said in one of the interviews.

The veteran says military personnel who come on leave or have already completed military service often feel a deep disconnect between what was on the front and what awaited them at home. Therefore, at the center, psychologists work in two areas: one specializes in working with the demobilized, and the other — with the families of the deceased. In addition, the center offers legal support and advice on obtaining medical assistance. The plan is to also help with employment by establishing an enterprise school. The center actively cooperates with employment centers and the city council for this.

The rehabilitation and socialization center is located at 4 Pokrovska Street, Zhytomyr. You can contact it by phone at +380678918499. The center is open to anyone who has recently returned from the war.

4. Recreation

ініціативи для поранених військових

For military personnel,  rest can play an essential role in maintaining or restoring morale and physical and mental health. Understanding this, military officer Oleh Revega built a dome with a view of the mountains for the rest of the soldiers in the Chernivtsi region. To create a place for rest, Revega saved up the money he earned abroad, and after the start of Russia's full-scale invasion, he transferred the salary he received as a soldier to the construction. Revega's relatives also helped him finance the Hutsul's Dome project.

Revega planned to build a recreation facility even before the full-scale war. Since he has been serving since 2014, he knows firsthand what soldiers must go through. Resting in a cozy house with panoramic views of the mountains is the best rehabilitation and moral rest from military operations, Revega believes.

 The house has everything necessary — a bedroom, a kitchen and a bathroom. In addition, they agreed with the locals to prepare traditional Hutsul dishes for the soldiers. A small library is also being created in the Hutsul's Dome. The soldier bought several books about dealing with post-traumatic syndrome disorder. Local children also helped replenish the library, collecting books and creating handmade bookmarks.

Revega invites his fellow servicemembers to visit the Hutsul's Dome and hopes such moral therapy will be enjoyable. You can contact Revega through his Facebook page. Priority will be given to wounded military personnel on rehabilitation leave.

Now, the soldier is looking for patrons to build a sports ground near the dome and hire psychologists and rehabilitators. He hopes that his project will become an example for other caring people, and they will also join similar projects.

5. Legal assistance

ініціативи для поранених військових

The free Legal Navigator is a tool that will help military personnel and their families navigate basic legal issues that arise at all stages of a wounded person's journey. Here you can find answers to questions:

  • How to get a certificate of injury?
  • What to do to receive financial assistance?
  • How to register for treatment abroad?
  • Where to complain if there are doubts about the conclusion of the medical commission?
  • There is a section for military personnel who need prosthetics — everything from the stage of control of treatment to a description of the possibilities of prosthetics abroad and at the expense of charitable funds.

Also, on the site, you can download samples of documents and reports accompanying the rehabilitation procedure for military personnel.

The initiator of the legal navigator was the non-governmental organization Pryncyp, which deals with the legal protection of military personnel. According to the organization's surveys, access to information is one of the problem points in the service.

"It happens that some lawyers extort thousands of hryvnias for such information. We want as many wounded people as possible to have unimpeded access to it from the very beginning," commented the Pryncyp team.

The project team constantly monitors changes in legislation and feedback from military personnel and their families and accordingly updates its Legal Navigator. Thus, it already has instructions and templates for questions that arise for relatives of military personnel and a section for veterans.

In addition, to further simplify the path to helpful information, at the end of 2023, Pryncyp launched a chatbot in Telegram based on the Legal Navigator. You can ask the bot questions related to obtaining statuses, payments, housing programs, benefits, etc. — the system will generate an answer for you.

You can access the bot via the link or in the messenger itself — @pryncyp_bot.


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