A warrior’s journey continues: Humanitarian efforts ongoing in Eastern Europe

By C.J. Vetter

As the war continues in Ukraine, community member Greg Miller is in the city of Kyiv, helping with the medical needs of the country. 

Miller, a retired special forces operative, has been in Ukraine since April 9, partnering  with different groups to help instruct medics, first responders, and frontline personnel in life-saving procedures. Operations such as hemorrhage prevention via tourniquet application or respiration clearing are some of the techniques that Miller has been teaching recruits. In addition, he has been helping outfit surgery centers and assisting in more advanced operations.

“We’ve been giving first aid to soldiers, but they need the specialists for surgery. The soldiers are getting training, but the next level of care is lacking,” Miller said. “We really need tourniquets. There’s a worldwide shortage. Cell savers, a machine for reusing blood, and automatic defibrillators are also needed.”

What has stood out to Miller, however, is the dedication of the Ukrainian people to their country. The people of Ukraine are determined not to allow the attacks of Russia to intimidate them, and they will not let Russia take away their freedom.

“It’s like any regular part of Europe. They’re doing their everyday thing, and try not to worry about the war,” Miller said. “It’s very surreal, you’ll see a building that was obviously hit with artillery and there’s a restaurant where people are eating next door.”

Miller also observed firsthand those people who fled from Russian invaded territories. Many of the cities within Ukraine were very similar to other western countries and featured both populations and amenities like those found in America, but were destroyed when the war broke out.

“I was sitting at a coffee shop there, and there was this broke lady, not just poor, but broken. If you’ve never seen the total loss of everything, it’ll wake you up,” Miller said. “They wouldn’t let her sit there because she couldn’t pay, so I gave her my coffee. We sat there for hours, not even talking. But she was just so happy to sit.”

As the war continues, and more refugees flee west from the frontlines, more volunteers have stepped up to help accommodate the displaced population. Food kitchens and shelters have been set up in apartments and other areas to help them as they make  their way to safety.

“America is so used to the afghani war, with dirt roads, dirt houses. This is not that. This is modern Europe. Just as modern as your hometown, maybe more,” Miller said. “Imagine San Antonio; what if everyone who lives there suddenly had no place to live?”

In Ukraine, there is a saying amongst the population, slava ukraini, or glory to Ukraine. The words can be seen across the country, and are shown through numerous posters, monuments, and writings. From the propaganda featured by the state, where Ukraine is depicted as a badger chewing the legs off a Russian bear, to Ukrainian graffiti on a destroyed Russian tank, the resilient spirit of the Ukrainian people was on full display.

“One of the commanders I work with had a birthday, and what they did was put a picture of Putin up on a target and shot him with a bow and arrow,” Miller said.

Miller plans to return to the U.S. before July 4 but has said that he plans to return in the future to help rebuild and give further support. During his time in Ukraine, Miller has made connections with the people he has helped and wants to see his work to its end.

“I can almost guarantee I’ll come back,” Miller said. “I’ve been all around the world, and I’ve never seen a people like this.”

For those wishing to donate money to the people of Ukraine, Miller suggests that they send direct donations via mail to individuals. Alternatively, donations can be made directly to Miller over Venmo at @Gregory-Miller-295.

First responders investigate the scene of a Russian attack

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