ARRIVING IN UKRAINE

While the war in Ukraine lingers, help and assistance are crucial. The Ukraine defense is doing a tremendous job, but their numbers are limited. As so, that is exactly what J is dedicated to aiding. Corresponding since his arrival in Ukraine just a few days ago, J is originally from the US. This is not his first time in the country though, he moved to Lviv in 2021 to volunteer as an English instructor. Residing there for six months, he returned to the states after the New Year to spend some time with family before returning.


However, following the Russian invasion in February, he was unable to return to his previous position. While he got word of many of his students fleeing the country, he also received calls from some of his male students who were unable to take refuge, being required to stay in the case they had to be conscripted and defend their country.


"These are my students, you know, these are kids in high school. And then freshmen in college, they're not soldiers, they've never fired a gun in their life, they never even held blood properly. They're musicians and artists. One of them wants to be in IT, and the other one, he's in a rock band. They go to college for these super cultural and metropolitan ideas."


After recent hindsight of seeing the helplessness of those left during the Afghanistan withdrawal and now this, J aims to use his veteran background in military doctrine and combat medicine to assist and help wherever he can. Currently coordinating with a group of volunteers, he is networking to find positions with humanitarian groups to assist across the country.


As the conflict has not reached Lviv, the city appears unaffected, but the situation he describes is "chaotic."


"There are a lot of what I like to call tactical tourists running around here right now, just dudes from the US showing up for the glory and walking around trying to be cool. And it's kind of a mess, it's very much like, you know, it's only been 47 days. So it's maybe a month and a half, give or take. So everyone's really scrambling to react to it, especially humanitarian and volunteer groups. And I think what we're kind of witnessing right now is just that initial chaos before everything gets a little bit more organized. But right now, it's hard to tell who's real and who's got actionable positions available, where you can actually help."


Lviv, Ukraine - April 28, 2022: J and his team unloading supplies with an NGO

"It's not their military organizing at all, it's a bunch of other groups coming in and setting up camps to aid and take care of people. So as far as I can tell, the most actionable groups that I've seen here are mostly humanitarian groups. The majority of them that I've seen and worked with, even been in communication with, is not your large your massive, you know, NGOs. Honestly, I don't know where all this money and resources are coming from or if they're going to NGOs, because, specifically here in Lviv, I'm hardly seeing anything about that, which is very unfortunate. You think that there would be a surplus of that. And I know that it's in Poland. But as far as what I've seen in Ukraine, it's been very hit or miss and much more on the miss side. I think that the Ukrainian government is seeking a lot of effort and obviously fighting the war, and the volunteer front on the backside is, I'm not sure what the deal is with that. It seems like it's kind of been being left to its own devices."


Lviv, Ukraine: J instructing a class

While figuring out logistics and evaluating different possibilities, J has been putting together Combat courses for the volunteers that come through. He goes over the basics of first aid and emergency response in these classes. "Things that could very well keep them alive on the battlefield, especially as non-combatants if they encounter something like that."

The CATCHALL will be continuing correspondence with J at TheCatchallAZ.com.