Kyiv, August 10, 2015. The all-Ukrainian campaign, Feed a Warrior, was initiated by the civic organization, Anti-Terrorist Operation Veterans’ Union. According to the organizers, Ukrainian troops are being demobilized, taking short leaves of short duration, and returning with injuries to undergo further treatment on non-combatant territory. Mariya Burdun, campaign organizer and board member of the NGO Svat, held a presentation of the Feed a Warrior campaign at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.
Burdun said that ex-servicemen face numerous issues, such as how to get home, where to find funds for the trip and, above all, where to eat and at whose expense. “It was exactly this problem that gave birth to the Feed a Warrior campaign. Any serviceman can now get free meals at special food outlets. His military rank is not important, and it doesn’t matter whether he was drafted or is a volunteer soldier,” said Burdun. Any food outlet can become a campaign participant. The pattern is simple: a campaign board is placed at a canteen, a café, a bar or a restaurant. Any patron can purchase, for instance, a cup of coffee and pay for another one. It will be put in reserve and later served to any ATO veteran. This information is placed on the information board, and meals in reserve are labeled with magnets. This is what a ‘military menu’ looks like.
“A serviceman is to present any document proving his ATO participation in order to get a free meal or drink. It may be a reference from his commanding officer, a certificate of leave or treatment or any other document,” said the campaign organizer. She also said that if a serviceman has no documents or certificates to prove his ATO participation, he can get free meals through a card provided by Svat. “This card contains no identifying information of the serviceman. Nevertheless, it contains a code indentifying all the information on the cardholder: regiment, period of stay in the ATO zone, military ranks, etc.,” said Burdun.
Even if this data were to be lost, leaving virtually no proof of a serviceman’s participation in combat, the NGO, Legal Aid 3222, will look for evidence of the soldier’s service. “We are trying to combine all the information on servicemen, ex-servicemen, drafted soldiers, volunteer soldiers, Ukrainian Armed Forces or Special Forces in order to be able to provide legal aid and data on any ATO participant,” said the NGO’s head, Denys Osmolovskyi.
This campaign is only part of the social benefits the authorities promised to ex-servicemen, said ATO veteran Ihor Pylyavets. “Many soldiers come back to non-combatant territories without funds or rehabilitation. So this campaign helps us feel at home,” said the serviceman.
Over twenty food outlets from Kyiv, Zhytomyr and Chervonohrad currently participate in the campaign. “We plan to distribute boards for servicemen at food outlets in Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Dnipropetrovsk and Kharkiv. Follow the link http://www.s-w-a-t.org/rehabilitation/nagoduy-vona/ to go to the website of Svat and learn more about participants of the Feed the Warrior campaign.