The Ukraine Report: Disabled Ukrainian soldier is helping veterans transition to civilian life

A now disabled Ukrainian solder is using his efforts to help veterans return to normal life.

Latifundist Media has partnered with us to provide boots-on-the-ground coverage.

A former political party leader, and a veteran, Yuriy Hudymenko is now the head of а non-state organization established to support former prisoners of war and families of fallen and missing military.

Shortly after the Russian invasion, Yuriy Hudymenko joined the Ukrainian armed forces. He served as a sapper with the 130th Battalion of the Territorial Defence Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. On June 27, 2022, Yuriy was wounded in an artillery shelling outside Kharkiv.

“My left leg hurts badly, it’s broken. My knee. Please. Please. Come on, drag him by the belt.”

It happened barely a year ago. Today, Yuriy is no longer able to fight as his arm is practically disabled, but he continues to volunteer and stand up for the rights of veterans. He also supports them in adapting to civilian life. Sadly, there are thousands of such stories today.

It is not every person who finds the strength to return to life, including work, on their own. Yuriy Hudymenko is convinced it is society that needs to adapt to veterans, not vice versa. Employers, including agricultural companies, ought to understand that in the future they will have to employ veterans.

So many people have left Ukraine. Some of them will never return. And every day, more and more people are momobilizedor the war. The percentage of veterans in the country grows each second.

We need to understand this and be ready to work with one another. Hiring a psychologist is one of the ways to do it right. And another is training, learning new skills and professions. And also to care for the needs of veterans. For this reason, employers, among others in the agricultural sector, are creating effective methods of such cooperation.

For example, MHP, one of the largest agricultural holdings in Ukraine.

“Every 10th our employee is doing military service. More than 400 people have been demobilized. 36 have returned to work. Our partners at the Veterans’ Fund estimate there are about 5 million veterans in Ukraine. It is challenging for both our holding and the country itself. We see the issue of job creation and we are working to adapt and increase the number of veterans who will work for us.”

The HRD of Agroregion mentions practical challenges too.

Being part of something big and meaningful is very important for a veteran. After serving in the armed forces, deand fending the country, it is difficult for a person to adapt to safety. People sometimes feel out of place. We need to ensure an environment where people feel they are doing something big and important.

Fortunately or not, there is little experience of such communication, so today there are more and more training courses for both veterans and employers, often with the involvement of foreign practices.

That report was powered by Latifundist Media, with USAID support provided through Agriculture Growing Rural Opportunities (AGRO) Activity implemented in Ukraine by Chemonics International. For more information, visit their website or follow them on social media.