Future For Ukraine
Future For Ukraine
Future For Ukraine

Reports 2023

December 23

Interview with defender Yevhen Kaliuzhnyi

Interview with defender Yevhen Kaliuzhnyi


Recently, you have seen in our stories how this strong man is learning to walk again and master two prostheses at once — one for his arm and the other for his leg. The bone-chilling story of Yevhen Kaliuzhnyi, a father of three children and a military man, deeply touches your heart. While reading it, you couldn’t stay indifferent and not empathize with the hero. 

The defender, who is from the Sumy region, was mobilized in May 2023. Immediately after training in military affairs, he was sent to one of the hottest spots — Donetsk. 

There, he was assigned to the 67th Separate Mechanised Brigade based on the units of the Right Sector Volunteer Ukrainian Corps (formerly Vovky Da Vinci).  


Yevhen, could you tell us how you were injured?

It was on 20 July 2023. The russians started storming our positions. There was a fierce battle, and a grenade landed directly in our trench. It exploded right on my body armor! If not for it, I would have been dead... The whole right side of my body was badly damaged.

My comrades gave me first aid, but I had to wait almost a day for evacuation because the shelling was too dense, and we only managed to evacuate the next day.


How did you hold on all that time? What did you think about after you were injured?

My first thought was to commit suicide. Most of all, I did not want to be captured by the occupiers, although no one from our brigade was taken prisoner — they were either shot immediately or mocked and then shot anyway. And if 3-4 russians come up to you, and you are lying with a grenade, then you immediately take them to hell with you.

However, the thought of my family and children helped me to hold out until the evacuation.


Did you feel a serious strength loss after your amputations? 

No, not really. It was not that bad. I had nightmares — bad dreams and phantom pains. Some people say they can last a lifetime. But otherwise, there was no depression.


Did the hospital offer you prosthetics? Were you referred to prosthetics centers?  

Yes, they did, but unfortunately, they do not work with such a difficult amputation as mine in Ukraine yet. 


Yevhen, were you mentally prepared for a trip to the USA for prosthetics? 

How to say, 50-50. I had some worries. That's the kind of person I am: I'm not a coward, but I'm afraid (laughing). Although, I have been through a lot of difficult things. But somehow it was easier on the front line than in civilian life (smiling). There is too much bureaucracy here. At the front line, you have one order, that's it. You do what you are told. Decisions are made faster. Here, you have to achieve everything yourself. 

Nevertheless, I was positive that I would go on living, even if it was with a prosthesis. It's a pity that it's not like a lizard when the tail grows back (laughing). 


Tell us about your family.

My mother has been with me since the first days I was injured. My father and sister live in Okhtyrka. My wife and children are waiting for me at home. They say: "Dad, we miss you so much, when are you coming home?". 

I have three children. The eldest is 21 years old and is currently in military service. My daughter is 16, and my youngest son will be 10.


Do you see your son serving in the military in the future? 

It will be his choice, not mine. If he wants to, if he doesn't, it's his personal decision. He is the smith of his life. No one imposed anything on me. My father is also a military man, but he did not impose his fate. No one criticized me. I don't want to impose anything on my children, either. 


So you have someone to live for!

Yes, of course I do! I have children and I need to put them on their feet. God willing, maybe I'll have grandchildren too. This is my guiding star at the moment — to see them all. And, of course, I want this to end as soon as possible so that no one else dies. I have a lot of brothers who, unfortunately, cannot be brought back. And I want everyone to come home alive and healthy. 


Tell us about your plans or dreams for the future.

The main thing now is to get back on my feet and walk. Even without an arm, but to walk on two legs. Not to move around in a wheelchair, but to walk independently.


We sincerely believe that you will succeed! You have a very positive attitude!

Yes, you can't give up! You know, if I could, I would go back without hesitation. And it seems like it's impossible to do this with my amputations, but I don't even know what position to take or what to do. If at least one limb was missing, it would be easier. But I don't like sitting in an office, I'd rather do something. So, I won't make any predictions yet.

Now, our defender has an incredible opportunity to undergo prosthetics and rehabilitation at the MCOP clinic in Washington, DC, under the supervision of the legendary Mike Corcoran and his team of specialists. We are grateful to all those who help and support our prosthetics fundraising and our patron, Vadym Stolar! 


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