A delegation of six female Ukrainian female veterans visited West Virginia University’s Morgantown campus last week to learn about programs and services available in the U.S. to veterans and military service personnel.
The goal of the visit was to help the delegation’s members develop insights into the critical roles policy makers, government officials and community and university stakeholders play in supporting the veteran population in the U.S.
The delegation will apply what they learned during their visit as they work with the Ukrainian Ministry of Veterans and local policy makers to create legislation to enhance programs and services – particularly those for female veterans – for service members in their homeland.
Females make up nearly seventeen percent of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. And many of the delegation’s members voluntarily enlisted and served on the front lines in volunteer battalions after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2014. As the conflict has continued, the need for veteran programs and resources has escalated.
Alina Arturivna, who served as a medical service coordinator, said, “While we have some services in Ukraine for veterans, such as healthcare programs, housing support and education assistance, they often are fragmented or incomplete. That’s why this program is so important. We can take what we’ve learned in the U.S. to help us better support our veterans at home.”
“The patriotism and love for country demonstrated by these soldiers is infectious,” said Jerry Wood, director of the WVU Center for Veteran, Military and Family Programs. “Through this visit, the delegation had the opportunity to meet with several of our female student-veterans at WVU. And although these groups are divided by language and geography, they were brought together through shared experiences.”
In addition to WVU’s campus, the delegation also had the opportunity to visit several veteran resource centers across the state and Washington, D.C., including the Louis A. Johnson Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Clarksburg.
The delegation also met with several local, state and national policy makers, including West Virginia Deputy Chief of Staff and Communications Director Mike Queen, and U.S. Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito. The delegation also attended a Morgantown Sister Cities Commission luncheon with Mayor Bill Kawecki and Deputy Mayor Jenny Selin.
The delegation was hosted by the Office of Global Affairs and the Center for Veteran, Military and Family Programs, in cooperation with the West Virginia Council of International Programs (CIP).The program was made possible through an Open World Leadership Center grant and sponsored in part by the U.S. Department of State.
Tara George-Jones, international risk manager in the Office of Global Affairs, said, “We have learned so much through the delegation’s visit. Perhaps what has been most surprising is it truly doesn’t matter where you are from – the issues are the same, and the feelings are the same when it comes to veterans. After all, war is war.”
Contact Tara George-Jones at email@example.com or 304.293.7265 for more information. You also may contact Jerry Wood at Jerry.Wood@mail.wvu.edu or 304.293.8825. For information on West Virginia CIP, contact Deanna Epps at Deanna.firstname.lastname@example.org or 304.293.7236.