“Today, there is not a single thing in the country that the occupiers do not consider an acceptable target… They fight against all living things… even against ambulances.” 

President Volodymyr Zelensky, February 2022

Alan Hoover, a retired American Marine Gunnery, has seen war. Hoover served five deployments around the world, including in Iraq. These experiences stirred in him a desire to help others and to be a pillar of his community. They have also taught him the importance of providing life-saving medical treatment quickly if someone is injured in combat.

When the U.S. Government began approving tens of billions of dollars of humanitarian and medical assistance for Ukraine after the start of Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion, Hoover was certain that purchasing ambulances would be one of the first moves the U.S. Government would make.

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“Ukraine needs ambulances. There is no doubt about it. President Zelensky has said it. Congressional leaders in the U.S. have said it. Everyone says it. We all know it to be the case. However, the U.S. Government is not implementing the legislation, which it has already passed and entered into law, to purchase the ambulances,” noted the decorated veteran.

Since March, Hoover, the owner of a Service-Disabled Veterans Owned Small Business, R2C2 Global Inc Rapid Response Crisis Control, has been attempting day-and-night to get lifesaving armored ambulances to Ukraine. However, despite all of his efforts, he is still waiting for the U.S. Government to begin purchasing the ambulances that the besieged nation so desperately requires.

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Zelensky, a month-and-a-half ago, highlighted that “Russia does not spare anyone,” and that is why Ukraine was in need of protecting its thousands of doctors and nurses with “armored ambulances, safe from Russian troops,” who continuously shoot at the rescuers.

Inadequate supply

Donations of ambulances have been made to Ukraine, however, they have not been sufficient to meet the huge demand that exists to assist the military and civilian populations under fire along the roughly 2,500 kilometer-long front line of the conflict.

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Andriy Futey, President of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, said that “the armored ambulances provided for [by the legislation passed in the U.S.] are essential to saving the lives of the men and women fighting for Ukraine on the front,” emphasizing that the emergency vehicles “need to be delivered immediately.”

Futey emphasized that quickly implementing the legislation to get Ukraine what it needed was “vital for Ukraine to fight off the invader and to save Ukrainian lives.”

In an April bipartisan letter to the U.S. Secretary of Defense and U.S. Secretary of State, six Democrats and Republicans of the U.S. Congress declared that “First, we recommend you immediately send armored ambulances… for Ukrainian first responders and defense forces.” The letter acknowledged that the ambulances allow for “securely transporting” wounded people and would “allow for life-saving care.”

However, despite Congressmen Jason Crow, Liz Cheney, Tom Malinkowsi, Ro Khanna, Peter Meijer, Brad Wenstrup, Joe Wilson, and Elissa Slotkin having signed a joint, open letter, and having subsequently approved billions of dollars of humanitarian assistance for Ukraine’s medical professionals and defenders, people on the frontlines in Ukraine say they have yet to encounter the long-promised support in-person.

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Gennadiy Druzenko, founder of the Pirogov First Volunteer Mobile Hospital, has been on the frontlines since the start of the full-scale Russian invasion and says that the need for quick, armored ambulances is something that he has recognized since the war first broke out.

“Perhaps I was the first who raised the call for armored ambulance supply in early March when one of our evacuation cars was damaged by Russian shrapnel,” says the experienced volunteer medic. Nonetheless, despite having continuously warned that Ukraine needed armored ambulances on the frontline to help Ukrainian medics save lives, the supply of armored ambulances has continued to move at a glacial pace from the U.S. to Ukraine.

Dire need

In March, one of the most senior leaders of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the U.S., the Most Reverend Borys Gudziak, gave a news conference stressing the “dire need for armored ambulances.”

The Archbishop was quoted as saying “What good is it if you feed the stomachs of these children, these women, these people in cities, if their brains are going to be blown out, if their apartment buildings are going to be rendered into rubble?” underlining the dramatic need for “massive humanitarian aid.”

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Hoover says that he agrees with the Archbishop’s sentiments and is not sure what the hold-up is in Washington, however it concerns him that “every day that passes without action, is costing lives. And perhaps another mom or dad who could have been saved, will never make it home.”

Sarah Ashton-Cirillo, an American and representative for the town of Zolochiv, located within walking distance of the Russian border, has spent a significant amount of time coordinating aid at her local frontline hospital.

She recounts that “over and over, the one item we need is clear: armored ambulances.” As civilians are whisked through the border area, where shelling and small arms fire is not uncommon, “we need to concentrate on patients’ acute health needs, not risking them die en-route because their ambulance was shot up.”

Christian Montessori, an Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) professional. says that he finds Ashton-Cirillo’s experiences to perfectly align with all that he has seen, stating that “Ukrainian civilians and emergency services are in desperate need for agile armored vehicles to extract wounded civilians.”

Montessori conveys that the urgency is palpable, as a “heavy uptick in Russian aggression targeting civilian infrastructure in Kharkiv and Kramatorsk means civilians are often left stranded for hours awaiting proper medical attention due to emergency services being unable to safely extract people out during heavy artillery and rocket attacks.”

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The delays seem inexplicable to anyone carefully following the invasion of Ukraine. However, a former U.S. Member of Congress, who preferred to remain anonymous, waxed that it appeared to be a bad sign and that “ultimately, a lot of the promised money will never make it to helping Ukraine. They [U.S. Government officials] will end up squandering the money as a slush fund on pet projects Stateside.”

Despite these obstacles, there is still hope that things will turn around and countries, such as the U.S., will begin to act on their word to help defend Ukraine’s defenders and rescuers.

“At the end of the day,” said Hoover, “I am ready to help. I am ready to have ambulances headed to Kyiv tomorrow. DC just needs to give me a call.” However, he remarked wryly, “I have only been waiting for five months for them to pick-up the phone.”

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