Return to Ukraine: This feature is part of an original Milwaukee Independent editorial series that recorded news from areas across Ukraine, including Milwaukee's sister city of Irpin, from June to July of 2023. It was the second time in the span of a year that the award-winning Wisconsin news organization traveled to the country during the war. The purpose of this journalism project was to document a humanitarian aid mission by the Milwaukee-based nonprofit, Friends of Be an Angel, and report about conditions 17 months after Russia's brutal full-scale invasion.

During a recent working trip to the Lviv region, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited one of the hospitals treating wounded defenders who fought in the Bakhmut area.

The Head of State was given a tour of the facility and took time to speak with the injured servicemen and their families. He inquired about their well-being and offered words of encouragement.

The soldiers, representing different branches of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, shared their personal stories, recounting the challenges they faced on the frontlines and their determination to defend their nation.

“Thank you for your service, for the heroic defense of our homeland,” the President said. “I wish you a speedy recovery.”

The visit served as a solemn reminder of the sacrifices made by Ukrainian soldiers, who have put their lives on the line to safeguard their country’s independence and protect its citizens.

“Our wounded soldiers deserve the best possible care and support,” said President Zelenskyy.” We will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that they receive it.”

President Zelenskyy presented state awards to the recovering servicemen. Mortar operators, riflemen, anti-aircraft gunners, grenade launcher operators, and combat medics received the Orders of Bohdan Khmelnytsky of the III degree, and the Orders “For Courage” of the III degree.

“This medal represents the collective efforts and sacrifices of all Ukrainian soldiers. It is a symbol of our unity and resilience in the face of an inhuman enemy. President Zelenskyy’s recognition reinforces our determination,” said an unnamed infantry Corporal regarding his award.

In order to provide highly specialized medical care to Ukrainian defenders, the Lviv hospital had established partnerships with leading specialists from the best clinics in the United States and the United Kingdom. The cooperative agreements helped introduce modern, minimally invasive, and high-tech surgical interventions in the field of plastic and reconstructive surgery.

It provided Ukrainian doctors with training in the latest methods of rehabilitation medicine. The Lviv medical service staff also regularly conducted tactical medicine classes with active military personnel.

The Order of Danylo Halytsky was awarded to representatives of the Medical Division of the Armed Forces of Ukraine by President Zelenskyy, for providing medical care to the soldiers.

“I want to thank you for your work and service, especially this year. It was the most difficult challenge for everyone. Thank you for helping so many of our soldiers, our heroes, get back on their feet,” the President said.

President Zelenskyy emphasized that the state saw and highly appreciated the work of medics, who are credited with saving countless lives.

“I wish you all good health and a quick victory,” added President Zelenskyy.

Series: Return to Ukraine

The Presidential Office of Ukraine

Milwaukee Independent has reported on Russia’s brutal full-scale invasion of Ukraine since it began on February 24, 2022. In May of 2022, Milwaukee Independent was the first news organization from Wisconsin to report from Milwaukee’s Sister City of Irpin after its liberation. That work has since been recognized with several awards for journalistic excellence. Between late June and early July of 2023, Milwaukee Independent staff returned to Ukraine for a second assignment to report on war after almost a year. The editorial team was embedded with a Milwaukee-based nonprofit, Friends of Be an Angel, on a humanitarian aid mission across Ukraine. For several weeks, Milwaukee Independent documented the delivery of medical supplies to military and civilian hospitals, and was a witness to historic events of the war as they unfolded.

Return to Ukraine: Reports about a humanitarian mission from Milwaukee after a year of war