KIEV – The fighting in Ukraine may have come to a ceasefire, for the most part, and from the calm in combat we can now see a new battle emerging out of the smoke from this conflict which is the very real road to recovery and recuperation for the injured veterans of Ukraine. Max, an eleven year veteran of the Ukrainian Army, a Non-Commissioned Officer, and member of the Commando Special Group is recovering in a Kiev military hospital from multiple gunshot wounds to the leg.

In early March I met with four of Max’s friends in front of the military hospital just outside of downtown Kiev. They arrived individually, their arms loaded with bags of food, bottled water, and basic health care products for Max, comfort items I presumed. We then entered the hospital compound through a lackadaisically guarded gate system and made our way through an obtusely structured courtyard to one of many large communist-concrete block buildings. There we paused in the lobby to sign-in where we were given white coats to wear and to purchase some compulsory cheap plastic covers for our shoes from a vending machine. From there we made our way through an increasingly dire scene.




Often we imagine hospitals as pristine and nearly holy in cleanliness, although the cracked floors and paint peeling from the walls gave the impression that this was not located in the capital, but near the front. Yet the front is nearly 500 miles from Kiev. When we entered Max’s room I anticipated the scene to improve, but even here the paint was peeling off the walls next to his bed in this well-worn and shared room. To make matters worse I then learned the importance of all of the goods being brought to him.

In America we often complain about the Veterans Administration, and rightly so as it is a grossly mismanaged organization which continuously fails to achieve its stated goals. Yet, while we have an organization which is more worried about its bottom line than the health of veterans; Ukraine has none. In fact Ukraine cannot effectively care for wounded warriors such as Max who was injured on Active Duty, who is on convalescence leave, and is expected to return to his unit after he recovers.

Early this year Max was operating in and around Mariupol where he was the last man out for his unit, providing rear security for his echelon to safely egress from a danger zone like any good non-commissioned officer. While providing security and ensuring accountability of his unit, Max was shot in the leg by machine gun fire. Max became what he prevented his unit from becoming, a casualty which allowed his unit to successfully return to base without any further injuries.