Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sparked a large-scale humanitarian disaster resulting in thousands of causalities among Ukrainian soldiers and civilians, as well as millions more being displaced from their homes. As U.S. Army Brigadier General Mark Arnold (Ret.) watched the invasion first unfold in early 2022, he jumped into action, collecting medical supplies to send to Ukrainians on the frontlines.
For General Arnold, it was the logical course of action: after retiring from the U.S. Army, he became a firefighter and EMT and wanted to lend his skills in emergency medical services toward helping Ukrainians. Soon after, General Arnold began volunteering in Ukraine, providing training to medics on the frontlines of the crisis. In March 2023, General Arnold established the Frontline Medical Ukraine Fund at The Columbus Foundation to help continue providing medical training and supplies, saving the lives of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians alike.
The Frontline Medical Ukraine Fund has been selected as the 2023 honoree of the Acorn Award in recognition of the fund’s extraordinary, life-saving mission. General Arnold, who lives in Columbus, shared with The Columbus Foundation his experiences in Ukraine and what motivated him to create the fund.
Q: Why did you decide to create the Frontline Medical Ukraine Fund?
During my first two visits to Ukraine, I traveled to the front in the northeast, east, and south. At every location, medics, commanders of units, soldiers, and physicians told me the same truth: half the Ukrainians who die from their wounds could have survived had all the medics received thorough training. I found volunteers training medics in an ad-hoc, non-rigorous, and unorganized manner, and they trained less than 5 percent of the medics.
As a Special Forces officer, I knew that the best way to establish a capable, robust, and enduring means of educating medics was through the Ukrainians, not non-Ukrainian volunteers.
Q: How does the fund work? Can you share more about how you partner with nonprofits to provide medical training and supplies to people on the frontlines?
The primary partners of Frontline Medical Ukraine are the Ukraine Military Medical Academy and the Cleveland Maidan Association. The Academy is responsible for the education of all military physicians, nurses, physician assistants, and medics; it had five medical schools. Four of its five medical education centers were destroyed by the Russians in early 2022.
During several collaborative planning meetings, the Academy created a plan to establish 23 dispersed medic education facilities and 10 mobile medic education teams, and the instructors are entirely Ukrainian physicians. The Ukrainians provide the talent, and Frontline Medical Ukraine provides the medical education aids, such as airway manikins, and pickup trucks for the mobile instructors. Cleveland Maidan Association receives grants from the fund, and then purchases and ships the education equipment and trucks to Ukraine where the Academy takes possession of it.
Q: How can people support your efforts?
The fund requires cash for the purchase of the education aids and trucks, so individual and institutional donations are essential.
Additionally, people can organize fundraising speaking events where I can describe my experiences in Ukraine through photos and videos I took during my visits to the front, stabilization hospitals, recently liberated towns and cities, and to cities that continuously suffer under Russian bombardment. The stories from individual Ukrainians are extraordinarily compelling and will motivate individuals and institutions to contribute to the fund.