Bring these medications to Ukraine when you come to volunteer and your contribution will be even bigger.
Moxifloxacin is what an American combat medic will give you if you have a penetrating wound. I have no idea how to find it in Ukraine, but your doctor can give you a prescription for it. I was very, very happy to have some with me here when a frightened cat sunk a fang very, very deep into my arm. (I was also very, very happy to have clear ballistic glasses with me when I was trying to get her out from under a bathtub while she was trying to scratch me to death, but that’s a topic for a post about ballistic glasses, right? Fang explained in the English notes at the end of the post.)
Do not bring aspirin or ibuprofen. US Department of Defense guidelines say not to take them for a week before entering a war zone. And, yes: since Putin deliberately targets civilian targets of no military value, all of Ukraine is a war zone.
Meloxicam is what an American combat medic will give you for any battlefield injury. See above regarding the situation in Ukraine.
Acetaminophen (sold in the US as Tylenol or in generic form) is the third thing that an American medic will give you if you are injured.
The antidiarrheal medication of your choice. You shouldn’t travel ANYWHERE without this anyway.
All medications that you normally take. Bring more than you think you will need. All problems in Ukraine are supply chain problems, so do not assume that you will be able to buy ANYTHING wherever it is that you happen to find yourself. Yes, I do understand that it is difficult to get more than your allotted quantity of prescription medications in the US, since your insurance company rations your health care.
fang: “A fang is a long, pointed tooth.” (Wikipedia) Fang often occurs with the verbs to bare and to sink into. Examples from Sketch Engine, purveyor of fine linguistic corpora and tools for searching them:
He sank his fangs into her shoulder.
Spike longed to sink his fangs into Xander’s hot flesh.
“Then you deserve this,” he said as he sunk his fangs into the man’s throat and drank hungrily.
Sink those fangs into one of our mini milk chocolate caskets.
How I used it in the post: A frightened cat sunk a fang very, very deep into my arm.
Volunteering in Ukraine? Choose your clothes carefully and your life will go smoother.
No English notes for this post, sorry… For those of you who read this blog to learn new English-language vocabulary, you will find links to the definitions of the words that I would have talked about if I had the time.
Don’t bring cammies unless you are pretty sure you will be joining a military unit. There is currently a regulation against wearing camouflage unless you are officially associated with the military. Also, if you are doing hot extractions, it scares the civilians who you most want to reassure.
Do bring obviously American t-shirts, a ballcap with an American flag or similar insignia, and whatever else you wear that marks you as obviously American. It is a big morale boost for the locals, and they will be very nice to you. (Note that many men wear a ballcap and a “tactical beard” here, so don’t rely on those alone to communicate to people that you are an American.)
Don’t bring 100% cotton t-shirts. You will be hanging up your clothes to dry, and 100% cotton t-shirts take way too long to dry.
Do bring kneepads. Whether you’re fighting, doing hot extractions, or teaching TCCC, you’re going to spend a lot of time kneeling on the ground. Elbow pads might be less necessary–depends on what you’re doing.
Do bring shower shoes–not for showering, but to wear in your living quarters. Ukrainians tend to be maniacal about keeping floors clean, and they don’t wear outdoor shoes inside except in public places. I have even seen guys wearing shower shoes in military headquarters! One US military veteran doing hot extractions here with me commented that he had never seen more Crocs in his life than in Ukraine–this is why. Shower shoes can be bought in Ukraine, but not necessarily in the areas where there’s fighting (most stores are closed there).
Do bring hearing protection. Disposable ear plugs will probably suffice. You might not wear them in the field, but if you find yourself on a firing range without them, you’ll wish you’d found room for a couple pairs…
Do bring a Camelbak or canteen. Bottles of water are currently easy to find except in the areas with the most active fighting, but they are hard to carry. Personally, I have never used my Camelbak because (a) I feel guilty having it when none of my Ukrainian buddies do, and (b) a lot of the time, there isn’t enough drinking water available to fill one anyway. But, my canteen does travel with me–it’s wearable, and small enough that I can usually fill it.
Fireproof/fire-resistant clothes are always a good idea… That said, I don’t know how to buy them without spending phenomenally large amounts of money, and I have exactly no fireproof clothing whatsoever… If you have some insight into this, please tell us about it in the Comments section.
Heavy gloves, tactical or otherwise. No matter what your job is, you’re likely to be moving large amounts of humanitarian aid, and if you are doing hot extractions, there will be rubble everywhere. Hand injuries are actually the thing that I have treated the most here–avoid them if you can.
Do bring tactical pants. You will want to carry some things on your person at all times, such as your passport. My 5.11 Defender jeans have held up OK here, but my tactical pants are definitely more practical.
Do bring shirts that you can wear comfortably under body armor. That means a pullover shirt with a smooth front and no pockets. Rationale: things on the front of your shirt can get pretty uncomfortable when your armor has been pressing on them for a few hours. Probably obvious to you younger kids, but definitely not to us old guys who grew up wearing Vietnam-era jungle fatigues with those four big, baggy pockets on the front.
Do invest in some merino wool clothing. See above regarding how long it takes for 100% cotton garments to dry here…
Do bring clear ballistic glasses. Everyone knows to bring ballistic sunglasses, but clear glasses are crucial in unlit buildings (there is highly unlikely to be electricity in buildings from which people need to be evacuated) and at night. Ophthalmological surgery materials are in short supply here… Much wiser to just wear your fucking eye protection.
Do bring your heavy-duty belt. We might need to drag you to safety by it… If you have a shooting belt with MOLLE attachments, it wouldn’t be a terrible idea to bring it–who ever has enough space on their plate carrier to clip gloves, ballistic glasses, a Leatherman, a magazine pouch full of snacks and cigarettes…?
Do bring full kit! Be careful about export restrictions, e.g. for night vision goggles. The Polish Customs officials are absolute assholes–they even confiscated a buddy’s IFAK (tactical first aid kit).
Do bring patches. People love to know that Americans support Ukraine, and of course soldiers will want to trade them.
Do bring a shemagh if you normally wear one. I often give mine away as a present, and then I miss it until I can find another one… If you don’t know what a shemagh is: you don’t need to bring one.
Do avoid bulk whenever possible. Depending on what your job is, you might spend a lot of time getting in and out of tight vehicles, spaces, etc.
Do bring a poncho/poncho liner.
Do inform yourself about the typical weather during the period when you will be incountry, but don’t assume that you know where you’ll be. Life is unpredictable here, and many foreign volunteers find themselves in multiple regions of the country even during a relatively short stay.
This feels less to me like a war of one country against another than of the Russian army versus a bunch of defenseless grandmothers…
This message from a friend who is volunteering as a medic in Ukraine showed up in my Inbox the other day…
Yes, I’ve been in Ukraine since the beginning of May. I’m a medic, as I was in the Navy. You asked about my safety. “Safe” is a very relative concept… When I’m not in the field, my morning routine consists of making a cup of coffee, grabbing a pack of cigarettes, and then sitting on the balcony to watch the morning rocket attack on my entirely residential neighborhood. I say “morning rocket attack” because there has been one almost every day since I got here. Probably sounds horrifying, but since the only people carrying guns around here are soldiers, I actually feel safer in the city than I do in the US. When I’m in the field, it’s a different story. I mostly do evacuations of civilians from the front. The Russians enthusiastically shell refugee collection points and clearly marked emergency vehicles, and evacuating civilians from the front means going to refugee collection points in clearly marked emergency vehicles. As it happens, I have a relatively high tolerance for danger, so although it’s certainly not “safe,” that’s fine. What’s not OK is that because the Russians hit those places and vehicles so hard, and by this point a large proportion of the people who have not yet left the front are old folks, this feels less to me like a war of one country against another than of the Russian army versus a bunch of defenseless grandmothers…
in the field: In a military context, this means being out doing whatever it is that you do. Examples:
Your service member is headed out into the field and it looks like the entire military gear issuing office is located in your living room. No matter what their training mission might be, they will want to prepare and pack a few things for the field that will make things a little bit easier while they are “work camping.” These are things that have been suggested by actual service members who have been in the field for countless hours, days, weeks, and even months. Source: 35 things every service member needs for the field, from the Daily Mom web site.
A good razor with a shave gel that protects throughout the day is key for a service member who is shaving in the field. Source: the Daily Mom web site.
I received this photo and the accompanying note from a friend who has been evacuating civilians in the Donbas region of Ukraine.
I’m not much of a picture-taker— pulling out a camera here feels sordid, and I’m not sure that I would want to remember anything about this experience anyway. But, this struck me. In a small town looking for a place to pee—there’s been no running water here for a long time, so it’s better to do your business outside—I came across a bunch of rusting barbed wire with vines grown around it. I saw those vines as a material reflection of just how many years the people in the region have been under attack: not since February 24th, but for eight years now.
It’s one thing to do something bad—we all fuck up sometimes. It’s another thing altogether to PERSIST in doing something bad. Eight years—that’s a lot of persistence in doing something bad.
I’ve often written here about how irritated linguists get when you ask them how many languages they speak. But, I’ve written much less about how difficult it actually is to say how many languages ANYONE speaks. Here’s an article from the Washington Post about the complexities of the linguistic situation in the Ukraine and how your ability to understand non-linguistic phenomena there are affected by exactly how you pose questions about linguistic phenomena.