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Spirit of America's Work in Ukraine Update

By Andrea HartleyJul 10, 2022 (0)

Imagine being one of 110,000 civilian volunteers fighting for Ukraine with no military training, no protective gear and only the clothes on your back. Yes, the US and European allies are providing arms and weapons, without which the war couldn't be fought, but there is still a great need for training and protective gear. Spirit of America has been filling this need.  They have already sent four cargo planes loaded with a combined total of 165 tons of lifesaving aid directly to Ukrainian defenders on the front lines, including Kevlar vests, helmets, first aid kits and food. They also sent military professionals who taught civilian volunteers a three-day intensive combat training course. The fourth plane arrived in Ukraine June 26, 2022, carrying 50 tons of lifesaving aid — trauma kits, radios, bulletproof vests, ballistic helmets, and individual first aid kits. This fourth shipment was accompanied by a donation of nine buses to transport soldiers and supplies to and from the front lines.

Since June, Spirit of America has raised over $400,000 to purchase ten locally acquired compact pickup trucks for Ukrainian Armed Forces. These vehicles also transport civilians, soldiers, and medical supplies to and from the frontlines. But 300 more vehicles are urgently needed by the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Spirit of America is working closely with the US military and State Department personnel to meet the critical needs of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

During their recent trip to Ukraine, Spirit of America's Europe Regional Director Colleen Denny and Regional Program Manager Matt Dimmick met with Brigadier General Serhii Sobko, the Chief of Staff for Ukraine's Territorial Defense Force, which now has over 100,000 civilian volunteers. General Sobko offered valuable input that will help Spirit of America tailor future shipments to best meet the shifting needs of Ukrainian forces.

In an interview with Fox Business, General Sobko spoke about the impact of American assistance: “All Ukrainians are grateful to your country for supporting the defense of our country against Russian aggression,” Sobko said. “Our forces are incomparable with Russian forces, that's why the assistance we receive from our partners is absolutely crucial.” 

Ruslon Kavatsiuk, Civilian Adviser to the Ukraine Ministry of Defense, spoke about partnering with Spirit of America. “Many lives have been saved by the first aid kits and safety gear that has been sent.” Kavatsiuk said he knows firsthand that the equipment reached the front lines within three days because the paperwork is signed and stamped by Army generals. Most of the equipment delivered to Ukrainian defenders is sourced in the United States and is top-of-the-line, military-grade gear that is used by the US military. “To equip one soldier with a ballistic helmet, bulletproof vest, and individual first aid kit, the cost is $1,343,” he said.

Kavatsiuk also credits Spirit of America with setting up Army FM in 2014 when Russia launched the war and eventually annexed the Crimean Peninsula. This radio station is aimed at Ukrainian soldiers on the front lines and helps to counter Russian propaganda. Before Army FM, Ukrainian soldiers had no source of entertainment or news other than one radio station that bombarded them with Russian propaganda. This was crushing Ukrainian morale, and the US Army, the State Department and US Ambassador to Ukraine recognized the critical need for another radio station to support the troops. Within three weeks Spirit of America committed the necessary funding to purchase equipment needed to produce programming at the studio for Ukraine's new radio station, Army FM, located in Kyiv, and the transmitter to broadcast the signal. It also provided the management and programming expertise. The station launched two months later and became the most popular station in the Ukraine within a year, reaching 15 cities and more than 80% of occupied territories in Eastern Ukraine. Today Army FM provides daily news, music and reporting for Ukrainian troops in 25 cities and continues to boost the morale of Ukrainian soldiers.

 Andrea Hartley is a former newspaper reporter for The Hammonton News, former columnist for Atlantic City Press, and freelance writer. She also published The Lehigh Valley Woman's Journal for 8 years until she went back to school and earned her MFA in Creative Writing and wrote, The Vietnam War: A Dream Amidst the Nightmare in 2017. 


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