A piece I wrote for the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) on the rise in PTSD in Ukraine, and what’s being done to try and stop it.
On the Maidan in Kyiv, the site of protests that ended in bloodshed in February 2014, almost every ledge and concrete step is covered with hasty memorials to the fallen. Fresh flowers and red glass candles surround framed pictures of dead soldiers. Next to them, rows of placards depicting photos from the war zone, from tanks on the move to soldiers playing soccer in shelled gymnasiums. In between the placards and pedestrians, volunteers from various organizations walk back and forth with little pails hanging from their necks, asking for donations to help wounded soldiers and their families.
These volunteers know, as does everyone in Ukraine, that there are legions of traumatized soldiers returning from the east. Since the war with Russia started in April 2014, some 70 000 Ukrainian soldiers have fought and approximately 2500 have died. Soldiers have seen friends killed in front of them with high-powered Russian artillery. Some have lost limbs; others have seen entire towns turned to rubble.