Thousands of severely wounded, ill, and injured servicemen are being removed from the official records. They are confined to their military units and are unable to undergo proper rehabilitation. They cannot provide for themselves or their families since they receive only 500-700 UAH per month. The state should continue to pay them a decent salary, and for the severely wounded, it should give them the opportunity to easily resign from the Armed Forces of Ukraine if they desire.
They were removed without warning
In the summer of 2022, Volodymyr Sheredega injured his leg at the shooting range — he twisted his knee and tore ligaments and meniscus. The injury was minor, but due to improper treatment at the military hospital, complications arose for Volodymyr, which prevented him from walking for some time. The serviceman says that it is likely that his knee cannot be fully restored.
After several months of treatment for this injury and rehabilitation, in April, the serviceman accidentally learned that he had been removed from the official records. Volodymyr was informed about this during a conversation with the personnel department of the military unit.
“Someone called me to ask where I was. I told them that I was undergoing a military medical examination. We were just talking, word for word, and I found out that I had been removed from the official records. In other words, they intentionally didn’t inform me about it, didn’t explain anything, including why I was removed, nothing,” recalls Sheredega.
Where is the rehabilitation?
Currently, Volodymyr Sheredega receives 700 UAH per month. 500 UAH is the minimum salary, and an additional 200 UAH is for the status of a combat participant. If he had not undergone the commission, he would now be sitting in the unit with his injury.
“In the army, there is this ‘funny’ thing called ‘temporary unfitness for military service with a review after 6/12 months,” explains Volodymyr in his Facebook post. “It’s a cunning status between ‘limited fitness’ and discharge. They declare you ‘temporarily unfit’ for six months or a year, after which you have to undergo another military medical examination because suddenly you might have recovered.”
The process of “removing from the official records” or “temporary unfitness” can be indefinite. These statuses are not legally regulated in a human way. Commanders have the right to keep such individuals in the units and not release them home. However, these individuals do not even receive the minimum salary because they have been removed from the official records and do not hold a position in the military.
Volodymyr currently has an online job to earn a living. However, the serviceman emphasizes that not everyone has such an opportunity, and many military personnel with severe injuries are now left without any money.
Military personnel who are removed from the official records also face problems with access to rehabilitation because they often cannot choose where to receive treatment and recover.
“When we are removed from the official records, we remain active servicemen, just like everyone else. To go for treatment or rehabilitation, we need to obtain a referral from the medical unit and have it signed by the commander of the military unit,” says Sheredega.
“In general, legally, the military unit is obliged to provide military personnel with referrals to the places they want to go. However, in reality, it is very difficult to obtain such referrals. I believe this is due to the fact that medical facilities are currently overwhelmed. The highest demand is for advanced medical facilities where everyone wants to be treated. For example, when I was admitted to the Traumatology Institute in Kyiv, there was a waiting list for military personnel for surgery that was 1.5 months long,” adds Volodymyr Sheredega.
500 UAH per month
Another military serviceman, Oleksandr Nakopyuk, found himself in a similar situation. He was injured in Lysychansk last summer. Oleksandr, along with 12 others from his platoon, was traveling in a convoy that was ambushed by Russian military. One soldier was killed, and the remaining 12 were injured.
“I sustained a penetrating leg injury, my optic nerve in the left eye was damaged, so I can barely see with it anymore. My left ear was also affected, and furthermore, my spine was injured. Now I can’t even sit for long periods, and the doctor advises me not to lift weights over 8 kg,” shares Oleksandr.
The military serviceman was also unexpectedly removed from the official records two weeks after his injury in the summer. However, he learned about it much later. In January, he underwent a spine operation, and in February, he was surprised to see that he received 1000 UAH on his card.
“I called the finance department to inquire about the issue, and that’s when I found out that I had been removed from the official records. I couldn’t understand it — I explained that I was currently recovering from surgery and couldn’t even walk. They promised to investigate the matter. Later, they made additional payments of 7000 UAH or 8000 UAH, but the following month I received only 1000 UAH — and that was it,” explains Oleksandr.
According to the law, after a severe injury, a military serviceman receives a one-time assistance of 100,000 UAH. Additionally, his salary and bonuses that he received while in active duty are preserved for two months.
However, if soldiers are removed from the official records, after two months following the injury, all the monetary rewards they previously received are revoked, and they start receiving the minimum salary for military personnel, which is the same 500 UAH per month (plus 200 UAH for combat participation).
Until February 2023, it was not a significant problem because on March 8, 2022, the Cabinet of Ministers adopted a resolution stating that military servicemen during the period of martial law would receive an additional monetary reward of 30,000 UAH. This bonus was given to all military personnel, including those who were removed from the official records.
However, in February 2023, the payment system for bonuses to military personnel was changed, and the reward of 30,000 UAH was canceled.
So, while Oleksandr was receiving this additional bonus and financial assistance after his injury, he wasn’t even aware that he had been removed from the official records.
“My mother helps me from her pension, and my wife, although she earns the minimum wage. We also have a child. I have already borrowed a lot of debts, and I don’t know what to do next,” says Nakopyuk.
Currently, Oleksandr is undergoing a medical-social expert commission to determine his disability status and receive financial assistance. However, it is very difficult to accomplish this. The injured serviceman needs to obtain a conclusion from the military medical commission in order to proceed with the medical-social expert commission.
To obtain this conclusion, he has to sit in long queues every day, even though, based on the doctor’s recommendation, he cannot sit for more than half an hour per day.
Why are military personnel being removed from the official records at all? According to Senior Sergeant Oleg (name changed for anonymity), who is a commander of one of the platoons in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, it is necessary to make room for new recruits.
Every military unit has a limited number of positions. If a military serviceman is injured and becomes unable to perform his duties in his position, he needs to be removed from the official records to make way for a new person to fill the position.
Sergeant Oleg explains that his military unit removes all military personnel who have sustained severe injuries and will require treatment for more than six months. This is done to ensure that the unit maintains its combat readiness and effectiveness.
However, Oleg also considers the money received by those who are removed from the official records as entirely unfair.
He explains that military units also remove those called “shirkers” — individuals who consciously neglect their duties in the army.
“There are many such people. They claim to feel unwell and deliberately refuse to follow orders. We take them to hospitals, but the doctors don’t find any illnesses. That’s why we remove such individuals from the official records. In our airborne assault unit, the military medical commission issues them a certificate stating that they are unfit for service here, and they are simply transferred to another unit,” Oleg explains.
In August 2022, military serviceman Oleksiy Rozumov suffered a severe concussion on the front lines. He was removed from the official records in September but was not informed about it either. He underwent treatment for three months and then spent another two months in rehabilitation. Starting from February, he began receiving 600 UAH per month after the 30,000 UAH bonus was canceled.
Being removed from the official records, Oleksiy is tied to his military unit. After his injury, he has to chase after the unit along the front line in order to obtain necessary documents.
“Since December, I’ve been waiting for the referral to the military medical commission to obtain Certificate No. 5 and confirm that I received my injury while defending the homeland. I submitted the documents for this certificate right from the beginning when I started my treatment. However, in our unit, there are many casualties and wounded, so all official investigations take a long time,” recalls Oleksiy.
“While I was waiting for this piece of paper, my unit was deployed for rotation in the de-occupied villages in the Kherson region. I had to go there, where there was no electricity, no proper conditions for living. It turned out that the medical unit had been relocated to Zaporizhzhia. So, I stayed in the Kherson region, waiting for about three weeks for the documents to arrive, to get the stamp and signature of the battalion commander, and then travel to Mykolaiv for the military medical commission,” he explains.
In order to receive a proper salary, the military serviceman and his wife decided to seek the assistance of lawyers, who advised them to publicly speak about their situation. Since then, the couple started appearing on TV broadcasts, engaging with the media, human rights activists, and deputies.
The military personnel who were removed from the official records in Oleksiy’s unit wrote mass appeals to the Ministry of Defense. In addition to Rozumov, over a thousand people from his military unit have been removed from the official records, and they all reached out to the Ministry of Defense for help.
Fortunately, this publicity helped, and the brigade in which Oleksiy serves began to search for job opportunities for the military personnel who were removed from the official records in rear units based on their place of residence.
Oleksiy was offered a position as an instructor at a training center for mobilized personnel.
“They reluctantly took me for this position because during training, I have to do everything I instruct the cadets to do. This includes running together with them and performing various exercises. However, I can’t run for long since I have a second disability group. Nevertheless, they still hired me due to a shortage of personnel,” Oleksiy explains.
What will change in the near future?
Currently, the draft law (9342) is being prepared for its second reading, which involves increasing the payments to the injured. In the first reading, a vote was held in favor of 6,000 UAH. During the preparation for the second reading, the working group on monetary compensation suggested increasing this amount to 12,000 UAH, as stated by MP Maryana Bezuhla from the Servant of the People party, according to Texty media outlet.
Furthermore, the military personnel will continue to receive a one-time financial reward of 10,000 UAH for severe injuries, and for two months, they will receive the same amounts as before the injury.
These changes will be implemented by the end of the summer. The amount of the financial reward was chosen based on the possibilities of the budget, as explained by Maryana Bezuhla. This will happen if the Parliament votes for the draft law with these provisions in the second reading, and the President signs it in a timely manner.
Viktoria Sarnova, the wife of military serviceman Oleksiy Rozumov, believes that even for the military personnel who are removed from the official records, a decent salary should be paid.
“Before my husband was injured, I had a good job. However, I had to initially take leave at my own expense, and then quit in order to take care of him after the surgery. I know wounded military personnel who, for example, live in rented apartments and have children. But they cannot go to work because they are military personnel with amputated limbs who are recovering from their injuries and treatments, and they need money for that,” says Viktoria.
Draft law No. 9342 also does not address another important problem: being removed from the official records deprives military personnel of the opportunity for proper rehabilitation.
“Temporary unfitness is something that should change over time. That is, the health condition of a soldier who is removed from the official records should improve, and he can return to military service. Or, unfortunately, it may worsen, and the person will be unfit for military service. Temporarily unfit and removed from the records, military personnel are attached to military units and practically do not have access to proper rehabilitation, which is precisely what allows for improving their health and returning to service more quickly. With the new legislative initiative, individuals will have the same conditions and problems as they have now, just with an additional 6,000 UAH (12,000 UAH if the Parliament approves these changes in the second reading),” explains lawyer Lyubov Galan from the human rights organization Principle.
“We do not have many grounds to discharge a person from military service due to their health condition,” says Lyubov Galan. “
Even individuals with amputated limbs can be considered partially fit and can remain in their military units. If there is no position available for partially fit individuals in their current unit, they must seek another unit where they can find a place.
This problem should be addressed at the General Staff level. There are military units that are currently trying to come up with solutions in this situation. Sometimes it is very difficult to find a new unit where you can be employed, so military units should assist individuals in finding vacancies.
Texty media outlet reached out to the General Staff of Ukraine to inquire if there are any recommendations for military units to assist in job search for soldiers discharged from active duty. We have not received any responses yet.
According to Texty, soldiers who have been injured should receive at least the same salary as other soldiers in their unit during their treatment and recovery period. However, another problem arises: the salary of a Ukrainian Armed Forces soldier is low, with the main amounts consisting of various allowances and bonuses. This complex system also needs to be changed, as the soldier should receive a specified amount as their actual salary.
After severe injuries, a soldier should have the opportunity to leave military service without excessive bureaucratic hurdles. This would be fair, as the person has sacrificed his health for the country and should not feel like a serf. The sense of fairness is crucial for maintaining a fighting spirit in the country and a sense of shared purpose. Without it, there will be fertile ground for Russian disinformation, the spread of betrayal narratives, and the potential for a divide between the country’s leaders and its people.
In the United Kingdom, for example, no wounded or injured soldier is discharged from the army until they are fully fit, according to retired Lieutenant Colonel Glen Grant.
“All injured military personnel receive their regular salary until the completion of their rehabilitation. If they are unable to fully recover and return to their position, they are discharged, but a significant amount of financial assistance is provided to help them reintegrate into civilian life. However, while military personnel are receiving treatment and undergoing rehabilitation, they continue to receive their regular salary, and they are also provided with accommodation and support, like other soldiers,” explains Grant.
If a soldier becomes disabled, the state will provide him with a dignified pension. In the United Kingdom, there are also several non-profit organizations such as Help for Heroes and the Royal British Legion that assist veterans in transitioning to civilian life.
The Ukrainian army needs to take care of its soldiers after they have been wounded, so they do not feel like expendable resources. Those who wish to remain in the army can be helped in finding work in rear units. For those who are unable to perform their duties after a severe injury and want to return to civilian life, it is important to provide them with the opportunity to be discharged and assist them in reintegrating into a peaceful environment.
Originally posted by Valeria Pavlenko on Texty.org.ua. Translated and edited by the UaPosition – Ukrainian news and analytics website