Ukraine’s Defense Ministry on Aug. 29 officially introduced a brand new military medal for combat-related injuries, with 25 distinguished Donbas war veterans being the decoration’s first recipients.

The ceremony was held on the day of remembrance of hundreds of Ukrainian warfighters killed by combined Russian-separatists forces in the disaster Battle of Ilovaisk in late August 2014.

According to the ministry, the new medal qualifies for Armed Forces servicepersons who have demonstrated outstanding bravery in combat and sustained injuries while defending the country’s integrity and independence.

The “For injury” decoration is a medal featuring the image of the crown of thorns with the Ukrainian trident and two crisscrossed swords on its forward flow.

“The number of injuries and their severity are marked with leaf branches fastened to the medal’s ribbon and its bar,” the ministry explained.


“Light wounds are marked with white or silver branches, which heavy ones with golden and yellow (colors).”

In a symbolic move, the first serviceman to get the “For injury” medal was Major General Ihor Hordiychuk, an iconic commander known for leading Ukrainian troops besieged by Russian forces during the battle of Savur Mohyla in summer 2014. The officer going under the codename Sumrak (“Twilight”) was heavily injured on Aug. 29, 2014 — exactly five years before the decoration — during the Ukrainian breakthrough from the deathtrap in Ilovaisk and was left to die by Russian forces.

However, Hordiychuk survived and underwent long treatment and rehabilitation, including in the United States. He was decorated with the “Hero of Ukraine” title for his bravery in combat.

The injury and numerous subsequent complications eventually led to being heavily paralyzed and barely able to move. Nonetheless, he did not leave military service and was promoted to the rank of Major General in August 2016.

Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak decorates Major General Ihor Hordiychuk with the “For Injury” medal during a decoration ceremony in Kyiv on Aug. 29, 2019. (Ministry of Defense of Ukraine)

The general, who managed to overcome his paralysis in large measure, is currently heading the Ivan Bohun Military High School, a major military academy based in Kyiv.

Apart from General Hordiychuk, 7 senior officers were also decorated for heavy injuries, while 17 other commissioned, non-commissioned officers, and also enlisted soldiers received their medals from then-Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak for light combat wounds.

The Defense Ministry announced the medal’s introduction in mid-April.

The decoration was initially designed under the title “For the sacrifice of blood while fighting for freedom of Ukraine.” Upon the announcement, the medal draw parallels with the Purple Heart — the famous United States military decoration also marking those killed or wounded in action.

A project image of the “For injury” medal presented by Ukraine’s military (The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine )

Each of the medals would be carrying a unique serial number to prevent forgery and illegal use, according to officials.

“(The medal) is awarded by the Minister of Defense or an official empowered by the minister,” the military said then. “In case of an on-site decoration, it can be also awarded by the chief officer of a military recruitment office.”

As judged from official explanation, the medal is qualified only for the Armed Forces personnel, presumably not including military personnel belonging to the country’s other defense and security agencies, such as special services, or the National Guards, or State Border Guard Service. Combatants of volunteer formations that had participated in hostilities in Donbas are not mentioned as subjects to the decoration.


The military also did not explain whether warfighters in numerous other conflicts starting from World War II — over one million of them are still living in Ukraine — would qualify to be awarded with the medal too.

In general, nearly 3,000 Ukrainian military servicemen were killed in action in Donbas, and nearly 10,000 more were injured since the outbreak of Russian invasion in the region in April 2014.

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