Soldiers Highlight Personal and Professional Progress in Ukrainian Army
A depiction of challenges and expectations in the army of volunteers and soldiers
Oleksii is a Ukrainian soldier. His mom is a doctor and his dad is in the military. Since childhood, he has been used to weapons and shooting ranges. He always had an interest in all things military. Studying at the Lviv Ground forces military academy was his first choice.
“When Crimea was taken away from us by Russia I was a freshman. We were sent to the training grounds. It was just planned drills, but they were extended by three weeks so we would get more practical skills and be able to perform combat tasks, just in case. So back at the academy we knew what awaited us,” he said.
Due to the shortage of officers in the army, lieutenants were sometimes put in charge of companies. And so they had to learn very quickly how to interact with personnel, some of whom are twice the age of the freshly graduated officers, and many of whom have a lot of combat experience under their belts. They also had to learn how to plan combat operations.
“An ideal officer has to be physically fit, know his specialty really well and have good people skills in order to deal with both the personnel and the higher command. An officer has to be confident and determined. Even if you have doubts about your decision, you have to be confident. Decisions have to be made lightning fast, because people’s lives depend on you,” Oleksii said.
Oleksandra was an entrepreneur. When Russia invaded Ukraine, she became a volunteer. The assistance she provided to the soldiers on the frontline is quite impressive.
“We were finding soldiers from our city in hospitals all over Ukraine, we looked for their contacts, we helped their families. When the first casualties happened, we supported their families as well. We bought drones and cars for the military. There was nothing we didn’t do,” she said.
After five years of war Oleksandra decided to sign a contract with the military.
“There was a problem though — my daughter was still an infant. When she grew up a bit I was allowed to join but with one condition — I’ll be serving not far from the military HQ in Kharkiv. They did not know the truth for a while, but then I needed something shipped and the post office was in Volnovakha. They began to worry about me. I promised them I’d come back without fail,” she said.
Oleksandra is an assistant grenadier, as well as a communications operator. She says that the Ukrainian armed forces are changing day by day, but the development process should be continual. This is akin to the transformation of the society..
“When I was in the US at the Norfolk marine corps base I saw that everything is organized very differently there. First of all, an American serviceman has to be clean, meaning no alcohol and drugs, and has to develop himself continuously. I want my brothers and sisters in arms to grow and develop. In the States I also saw how the society honors veterans. It should be the same in Ukraine. Soldiers risk their lives so that civilians can be safe and live in peace,” she said.
Both Oleksiy and Oleksandra believe that the Armed Forces of Ukraine will improve and in the future serving in the army will become prestigious. They also believe that the Ukrainian army will return the territories occupied by Russia.