UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Bishop Daniel Visits Wounded Soldiers of Ukrainian Army at the Military Hospital in Lviv, Ukraine on Behalf of the Clergy and Faithful of the UOC of the USA
For the clergy and faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, and especially His Grace Bishop Daniel, who served as a chaplain at the US Army Military Base, working with the wounded soldiers, helping the men and women of the Armed Forces to re-adjust back to normal life settings, has been a task that goes beyond monetary donations – but takes a personal approach of love and care that very often is priceless.
For the past several months, especially since the beginning of the ongoing war conflict in Ukraine, the clergy and faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA selflessly collected and donated over $200,000 in support of wounded soldiers of the Ukrainian armed forces and numerous refuges from Donetsk and Luhansk Regions. Both hierarchs (Metropolitan Antony and Bishop Daniel) and several clergy and faithful of the Church traveled to Ukraine to personally deliver and distribute the collected funds. With the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Antony, Vladyka Daniel, during the previously scheduled visit to Ukraine (7-12 May, 2015), once again visited the Military Hospital in Lviv, Ukraine to deliver $15,000 of additional funds to the wounded soldiers and members of their families.
On May 11, 2015 - Vladyka Daniel, escorted by Very Rev. Oleh Drevniack, visited the “adopted” hospital of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA in order to share in the moment of prayer, reflection and encouragement as young soldiers of Ukrainian Armed forces receive medical treatments following the sad reality of painful war injuries. Talking to the bishop of the UOC of the USA, a number of young men expressed their love for the homeland and a sincere desire to return back to their battle-buddies, protecting the nation of Ukraine from Russian aggression.
Meeting with families of the wounded the bishop related the love, prayerful support and solidarity of the entire Ukrainian-American, and especially Ukrainian Orthodox communities with the people of Ukraine. His Grace stated: “For over a year now, the faithful of the UOC of the USA gather in their parishes to hold prayer services for the suffering, wounded and deceased. Today, once again I visit these brave men with a profound sense of gratitude for their service and the ultimate sacrifice that so many of them have made. Once again, I bring with me the prayerful well wishes of His Eminence Metropolitan Antony, the First Hierarch and the clergy and faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA… We bow down in gratitude for your dedicated service, praying the Almighty God for your healing, both physical and spiritual…” At the end of his visit, Vladyka Daniel approached each soldier to personally offer a prayerful blessing.
In conclusion, speaking with the medical staff of the hospital, Bishop Daniel spoke about the need for spiritual, physical and intellectual care of the patients. Moreover, the bishop mentioned the need for prayer and patience, as the recovery time is often lengthy and painful.
“The soldiers that receive medical treatment and help have physical limitations due to injuries that often keep them from doing jobs they did before in a normal civilian sector. Sometimes they have head injuries and can’t process thoughts as they once did. Others suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or other emotional issues and sometimes “self-medicate” or have substance-abuse problems”, mentioned one of the medical doctors on duty.
“It’s about healing and transition to something different in the military or something civilian,” he said. “It’s an educational opportunity to find things that suit them… Each soldier faces unique challenges. There’s no blanket solution, and we work with each individual to address current needs and equip them for the future.”
Speaking with the nurses on duty, Bishop Daniel learned that they use the unique approaches that might seem unusual but the focus is on helping the soldiers.
For one young man, it was giving him a birthday dinner —to help connect him to others and deal with issues of depression and substance abuse. For another family, a visit from a mother or a sister, who spend several days in the hospital ward with the wounded soldier.
The hospital staff frequently involves not just soldiers but their families as well. For those who will have permanent physical or mental limitations, the military will bring in and house spouses, parents or even entire families and teach them to be non-medical assistants to take care of their loved ones.
“The families need to learn to tend them,” reflected Vladyka Daniel, adding that the presence of family also makes the healing process easier. “It also gives them a spiritual and an emotional connection with that family member. That’s something they wouldn’t have with a hospital staff.”
Reflecting oh his own military chaplaincy experience, the bishop mentioned that the medical personnel.., their job requires a constant need to adapt to the changing situations and challenges of the soldiers and families they helps. That flexibility is something that must be passed to the families they help, many of whom are facing quite different lives from what they knew before.
“What you do is about resiliency and adjusting to the new normal,” mentioned Vladyka Daniel. “Christ reached out to those in need and gave them hope, and that’s what you are trying to do as well, in whatever form it comes.”
Concluding his visit to the hospital, Bishop Daniel noticed that the soldiers whom he visited were all eating traditional Ukrainian varenyky and meat dumplings, which made him hungry as well. Several of the bedridden soldiers offered to share their meal with the bishop, which was brought to them by the local volunteers.
So far over 300 wounded Ukrainian soldiers became recipients of over $200,000 since the beginning of war in Ukraine.
The Consistory Offices of the Church offer sincerest gratitude to every person, organization and parish community of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA for their sincere and generous donations that were received and continue to be delivered in order to provided additional assistance to those in need. God’s blessing be with each one of you!