Who understands the needs of war better than people who have experienced it firsthand? That’s the question a group of five US-based Ukrainians asked themselves when they decided to launch “Gear for Ukraine” — a platform that collects donated body armor and other essential gear to Ukrainian territorial defense from veterans, hunters, and other Americans.
So far, more than 100,000 civilians have joined territorial defense to fight side by side with the Armed Forces of Ukraine. But they’re extremely short on bulletproof vests, helmets, knee and elbow pads, and other critical tactical gear. Essentially, many are fighting without any armor, leaving their brave hearts vulnerable to the enemy.
Nika Bielska, a genetic scientist from Kyiv who now lives in Santa Monica, CA was approached by her neighbor, a veteran, just days after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. She recalls, “He donated some of his own gear, and said that his fellow veterans likely have it, too, and that they’d be willing to share if they knew we needed it. So I thought, why not just ask?”
Donating is simple: Anyone who has body armor or tactical gear that they can donate, simply needs to fill out a form at gearforukraine.com. The group will even cover shipping costs, or help coordinate local logistics if needed.
To make sure donations get to where they’re needed, the group works with Ukrainian American Coordinating Council (UACC), (uaccusa.org/supportukraine.html), which is licensed by the Department of Commerce and Defense to export level III and IV helmets, bulletproof vests, and plates. All donated body armor and gear is sorted and itemized in the U.S and then delivered to Ukraine as quickly as possible using special transport.
All the details, including personal profiles and contact information for of the group’s founders are available on gearforukraine.com