I just returned from western Ukraine, where I had the opportunity to attend the graduation ceremony for the Ukrainian soldiers being trained by the US Army. At the end of the ceremony, the US paratroopers and I passed out Spirit of America-provided first aid kits.
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The US soldiers did a tremendous job training their Ukrainian counterparts over the past two months, covering a broad range of critical skills that will make them far more capable of protecting their country from the Russian-backed separatists in the east. One of the most important of these skills was first aid – the ability to save lives in combat when proper stabilizing treatment in the first hour after being injured is crucial to survival.
As we told you before, the Ukrainians unfortunately lacked the basic supplies to make full use of this training. One of their medics explained to me that on his previous deployment to the front lines, people were dying needlessly because they didn’t have effective ways to stop bleeding and bandage wounds.
With your help, Spirit of America was able to fill this desperate need. Each soldier the Americans trained received a first aid kit with a tourniquet, bandage, combat gauze, a chest seal, and an airway device – the critical components needed to save lives. And, this was delivered just in time. The Ukrainian soldiers are headed back to the front in the next few weeks.
The US commander gave me a sense of how impactful this support – coupled with the rigorous training – could be, saying: “The fielding of the first aid kit to the Ukrainian National Guard (NGU) was absolutely invaluable. During Operation Fearless Guardian [the US training mission], the NGU Soldiers are training in critical life saving skills. Fielding these kits – to the individual level – complemented the training in a way that was absolutely priceless. Each NGU Soldier is now both trained and equipped to conduct life saving care.”
The Ukrainian soldiers also conveyed how much this support meant to them. Soldier after soldier came up to thank me – and by extension, every member of the greater Spirit of America team, of which you are an integral part. Some took the patches off their uniforms and presented them to me, a time honored tradition in the military signaling gratitude and brotherhood. These kits will help keep them alive in a very tough fight.
These soldiers are literally on the frontlines of the fight against Russian-backed aggression, a conflict that could have major repercussions throughout Europe and beyond if left unchecked.
If you haven’t gotten involved yet but would like to, please see the project page here. Thanks for being part of our team!
Director of Field Operations