CHICAGO — Nine months into the war in Ukraine, a Chicagoan is on a mission to help civilians under siege.
“Every day is a struggle and right now all they’re trying to do is say ‘Where is my next meal going to come from?'” Harrison Jozefowicz said.
Jozefowicz is a U.S. Army veteran. He first served in Italy with the 173rd and then was deployed in 2017 with the 82nd Airborne Division – a combat role in Afghanistan.
“My first exposure besides living in a first-world county where everything is readily available for you,” Jozefowicz said.
He did come home and served as a Chicago police officer for three years.
That was until Russia invaded Ukraine.
He quit the Chicago Police Department and went into a war zone to help.
“One day we’ll be fixing the windows on a school and then the next day we’ll be cleaning up rubble from apartments so these the grandmothers can have a place warm to live through the winter,” Jozefowicz said.
Even though he came back to Chicago for a while over the summer to raise money for the effort, this Army veteran felt he was still needed in Ukraine.
“To put it simply, it’s just a higher calling,” he said.
He went back to help rebuild parts of the county that many Ukrainian forces have taken back and where civilians are trying to rebuild, including American volunteers. Many of them are veterans like Jozefowicz.
“They are much more hands-on rebuilding schools, cleaning up bombed out apartments and just trying to make things livable for the Ukrainians that are there – that’ve been under occupation for the past six months,” he said.
It’s a mission with no clear end date and one he’s committed to, as a U.S. veteran, serving others overseas with a real-world look at what happens when democracy is in danger.
“We definitely don’t try and take democracy for granted now,” he said, “especially a lot of the volunteers who are experiencing something like this for the first time.”