On Monday March 18, a forum was held by the Odesa State University of Internal Affairs (ODUVS) in cooperation with the Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences. It was organized by the Ukrainian veteran’s organization “Strong of Ukraine.”

The purpose of the forum, which followed on from a similar event hosted by the Dnipropetrovsk Regional Military Administration in February, was to identify and discuss current issues surrounding the rehabilitation of wounded veterans through sports, supported by the development of a veteran sports community in the region.

The forum was addressed by Ukraine’s Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, Leonid Tymchenko, First Deputy Head of Odesa Regional Military Administration, Oleksandr Kharlov, and People's Deputy, Oleksiy Leonov.

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Tymchenko told the gathering: “We must be ready for the fact that even more veterans will appear in Ukraine, and we must create all the conditions for their comfortable life. It relates to life in society as well as employment opportunities. Currently, a large number of servicemen who were wounded at the front work in the Ministry of Internal Affairs.”

In his address Kharlov said “We continue to work with our international partners on the issue of rehabilitation and we are trying to create all the conditions so that Odesa can become the southern hub for rehabilitation. Currently, together with the National Police and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, we are implementing in the region the President's program on the employment of our military personnel who were injured as a result of [Russia’s] armed aggression and are unable to perform their military duties.”

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Leonov said “I completely agree with our President when he emphasizes that any ineffectiveness in policy towards veterans will deprive everything else that happens in our nation of moral meaning. Therefore, through our joint efforts, we must make this policy as effective as possible.”

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The lawmaker elaborated: "Veteran policy is a test of gratitude and justice, which is to be passed not only by the state, but also by the whole society. With joint efforts, we must make this policy as effective as possible."

One of the key elements of socialization talked about at the forum was the ability of returning injured veterans to get behind the wheel again regardless of the seriousness of their injuries including amputations. Thus, the need for driving schools who support persons with disabilities which operate as educational institutions under the direction of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

The rector of the Odesa State University of Internal Affairs, Dmytro Shvets, gave details of the work of one of these schemes, saying “With the support of the Minister of Internal Affairs, Ihor Klymenko, a driving school for persons with disabilities operates in every institution of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and our university is no exception. We have specially equipped cars and instructors who work with this group of people. In addition, we provide conditions for living while studying at the driving school.”

The forum was organized into three discussion panels:

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  • Sports and rehabilitation policy in the regional context
  • The role of sports in the rehabilitation of veterans
  • The road to recovery: the experience of veterans

The participants noted the importance of an open and high-quality dialogue on sports rehabilitation and social reintegration between war veterans, state authorities, and representatives of businesses providing sports and health services.

As part of the event, there was a presentation of the mobile application for sports rehabilitation of veterans TrenVet from the NGO “Strongman Federation of Ukraine”, which enables injured veterans to find a specialist coach and receive free sports rehabilitation support.

ODUVS has been active in this area for some time. On March 8 it hosted an adaptive sports competition organized by the Strongman Federation of Ukraine. Sports included simulator rowing, bench press, air bike and kettlebell jerk with People’s Deputy from the Servant of the People Party , Vasyl Virastyuk, a former “world’s strongest man” champion as the chief judge.

During the prize giving Tymchenko congratulated everyone who had competed and said “The main goal of the competition is to show the possibilities of socialization, how our heroes can show themselves not only on the battlefield, but also by demonstrating the spirit of indomitability, because they are the bearers of the code of winners.

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“It is necessary to spread such initiatives throughout Ukraine for the socialization of our veterans. They should see how much the state takes part in their life activities, how much we respect them and under what conditions they can participate in competitions and continue the victorious march of Ukraine and our Security and Defense Forces of Ukraine.”

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