Dad and Son Suffer Personal Costs of War in Ukraine

Father stays by injured son’s side in Ukrainian hospital ward for wounded soldiers from Donbas conflict

Serhii Shumei, a 64-year-old retired military veteran has spent the last five months by the side of his injured son, Vitalii, 34, in his Ukrainian hospital ward for wounded soldiers. Vitalii, a long-range anti-aircraft missile commander was wound in the Donbas region eastern-Ukraine, an area synonymous with horrific losses in ongoing fighting for both Ukraine and Russia.

The shelling inflicted severe damage to Vitalii’s brain and he remained largely immobile. Fortunately with the devotion of his family and friends, and even some well-wishers, Vitalii has seen some progress recently. Vitalii began wiggling his toes and frowning a sign of interest in his surroundings. His father was elated to hear Vitaliiacknoweverledge him as ‘dad’ when prompted.

Vitalei’s hospital in Chernihiv is among those where soldiers get long-term follow-up care after their wounds have been stabilized closer to the front. His father Serhii made a promise to help Vitalii recover and fight to win the war. His hospital, like many in the region, is constantly filled with stream of wounded soldiers coming off the frontlines, a reminder of the deadly cost of the conflict.

Ukraine aims to slow Russian advances in the region, currently set in a bloody stalemate. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy described two of the said towns, Bakhmut and Soledar, as “completely destroyed” with corpses and craters strewn around. With no end to the Donbas conflict in sight, families of those wounded hope to create a sense of comfort and hope that helps with recovery journey.

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