Мужики, не надо бояться меняться, мы уже поменялись, — ветеран АТО своим побратимам

“Veteran’s Hour” is on air today within “Fulcrums” project, with Andriy Ilchenko, veteran, instructor of Company-tactical group 169, and Oleksandr “Hamingway” Chamorsov, veteran and designer


Михайло Кукін,

Тетяна Трощинська


Олександр Чаморсов,

Андрій Ільченко

Мужики, не надо бояться меняться, мы уже поменялись, — ветеран АТО своим побратимам
Мужики, не надо бояться меняться, мы уже поменялись, — ветеран АТО своим побратимам

“Veteran’s Hour” is a project initiated by veterans themselves. 

Oleksandr Chamorsov: I have two call signs, really. One of those, “Hamingway”, I got in “Pobratymy” (Brothers-in-arms) organisation where I underwent psychological rehabilitation after war. Another call sign, “Stsena” (Stage), I got on the frontline.

I like telling stories very much, and within any answer I try to tell a story. I have written 10 stories, and there is a story about my call sign among them. But it starts with what I was before the war. I graduated from the Kharkiv Art-and-Industry Institute, it is called the Kharkiv Academy of Design and Arts now. I graduated from there as long ago as Soviet times, and my speciality is artist-constructor, i.e. designer. All my life, I worked as a designer in many companies. I would work as one until my pension, if not for the war.  

Andriy Ilchenko: Sasha, you were into a specific activity, you were enjoying it. What has gone wrong now? Why don’t you want to engage in this any longer? 

Oleksandr Chamorsov: I can’t say that I don’t like this activity anymore. I still like design, and those works that I created, and not only I like them. But I won’t do this any more, most probably, not because I don’t like it. I just want to do something else. Maybe I see my mission in something different.

Mykhailo Kukin: What is it?

Oleksandr Chamorsov: I will try to explain but this is going to be another story. I tried to analyze the situation: when had I understood that my mission must be different. Most probably, this happened when I was still on the frontline. There, I talked a lot to my friends in the battalion. 

Andriy Ilchenko: What did you do in the East?

Oleksandr Chamorsov: My position was called “club manager”. Don’t confuse it with a night club manager.  The situation was like this: I had attacked the military commisariat for a long time, and I had one demand: I had to go to the frontline. I succeeded on the third attempt. When I came to attack the military commissariat for the third time, the military commissar told me that the next day people were to be sent to Honcharivsk, and from there everybody goes to war. But, he said, I had to go there on my own. Very well, I went there. It turned out that a tank brigade was stationed in Honcharivsk. The commander who made a list of people who came asked me what I was doing at all, so I answered that I am a designer and that even when I did my regular military service I was painting and drawing, so I don’t even know whether tanks use gas or diesel. 

Andriy Ilchenko: As a result, you were driving a tank?

Oleksandr Chamorsov: I was on the armor, which means I am not a tankman.  

Mykhailo Kukin: I understand it so that you got the call sign “Stage” because you were a “club manager”, and a club is a stage. 

Oleksandr Chamorsov: Yes, they were very quick in inventing the call sign, and no one asked me whether I liked it or not. 

Mykhailo Kukin: We were talking about a mission but we got distracted a bit.

Oleksandr Chamorsov: This story began while the term of the service was nearing the end. I talked a lot to my guys who just came to talk to me. I compared myself with a psychologist working in a military unit. We, by the way, had no position of a psychologist in the battalion, and we did not have such a person at all. 

Tetyana Troshchynska: Have you started to do this out of the blue?

Andriy Ilchenko: I’d say as our brother-in-arms Andriy Kozynchuk said: “A person with a big heart can do more tan a person with a pile of diplomas.” I think this is about Sasha. 

Tetyana Troshchynska: Had they started to come to you on their own initiative? 

Oleksandr Chamorsov: Yes, and I was very glad about this as there was an age difference between us. When I was there I was 52 while my brothers-in-arms were slightly over 20. So, they were talking to me. And this was peer communication, the kind we have in our “Pobratymy” organization. The age does not matter, and the fact that I was an officer does not matter either. This is why my pondering my mission started: to learn and become a psychologist

So by the end of my term of duty I began attacking higher military educational establishments and started to get information on learning to be a psychologist. They had quickly lowered me to the ground and I understood that I am their client no more because of my age. Cadets are doing classes there.

Tetyana Troshchynska: First education can be obtained before you turn 65, and there are no age limitations for the second education. 

Oleksandr Chamorsov: But this does not apply to military educational establishments.

Tetyana Troshchynska: We have a phone call.

Listener Andriy Kozynchuk: Good afternoon, my name is Andriy Kozynchuk. Iam calling to pass on greetings and say that I love you very much. As for the age and studies, I can say that when this learning is mature and intentional, it does have advantages. When a person says that they want to study this is much cooler than when they say that they know everything. This is why I support this and will myself look for opportunities for all of us to study. However, I have a question: Why are you doing this? What do you get out of this?  

Oleksandr Chamorsov: Most probably, I am doing this for myself, among others. Maybe this is the tip of the Maslow Pyramid when self-actualization happens.  

Andriy Ilchenko: When had the moment come when you decided to change something in you? What helped this and how had you become aware of this after demobilization? How had you found “Pobratymy” organization, and why namely them? Such organizations are numerous, after all. 

Oleksandr Chamorsov: I don’t think that there are many such organizations. I know only two where they explain to veterans what is happening to them. These are “Pobratymy” and “Sertse voyina”. 

And they both are public organizations, they are not run by the state. Luckily, I suppose. For I can tell this story, how I underwent psychological rehabilitation with the state’s help. 

This was approximately like this. The return of the physical body was quick: I took a train in Kostyantynivka, and stepped off it in Boryspil the next morning. But I had not returned myself, it was very hard. The hardest thing was that I had not known what was happening to me, why was this happening, and whether I am normal or not. I began looking for answers. 

Andriy Ilchenko: This means that you understood that you had changed. I want to tell all the veterans: “Guys, you don’t have to be afraid of changing, we have already changed”. And here you have a living example of the guest who is in the studio now. 

Oleksandr Chamorsov: Really, it was evident that I had changed, and not only from my point of view but from the public point of view, too: I did not want to talk with Mum and Sis, I did not want to visit them.  

Mykhailo Kukin: Why? They did not share your views or did not approve of your going to war?

Oleksandr Chamorsov: No, it was alright with this, the more so that my sister’s husband was mobilized, too. 

The matter is not that they had not shared my views but in that a person who comes back from war, for a certain period, does not want to communicate with the society at all. It’s clear that the society, in the person of Mum, takes offence because of this. 

When I came back, I went several times to meet trains with my guys because I was not able at all to let them go and let go of the situation. 

So I tried to find answers to what was happening to me. This was early 2016, and the state at that time has already started to organize so-called “rehabilitation” of ATO participants. 

Andriy Ilchenko: Rehabilitation is when a person is returned to their former state. And here we have habilitation or adaptation. 

Oleksandr Chamorsov: So, I came to undergo the state-organized adaptation to a sanatorium. It was all normal with physical rehabilitation, I was undergoing corresponding procedures. 

As for psychological rehabilitation, when I was going past the psychologist’s office, I heard music from it, I saw candles burning, a corresponding atmosphere, people in armchairs. And I thought I needed this, too. I went to the office clerk and said that I also needed talking to a psychologist. 

So I come to the psychologist, and she asks me what are my problems and what I am worried about. I think to myself that everything worries me, I don’t know in what light. 

But I think OK, I’ll start with something minor, so I tell her I was going around in military uniform for three months since demobilization, which means that I can’t put on other clothes physically. People pay attention to me. Maybe they don’t like it. To this, she replied that she would help and advised me to go around in training clothes. 

Andriy Ilchenko: I’ll tell you right away that if a psychologist gives you advice, you can at once make this psychologist eat their diploma. 

Oleksandr Chamorsov: I was not clear about this at the time. So she advised me to by training clothes, and this was basically the way our conversation went on.

Mykhailo Kukin: And then you understood that you should not rely on the state? 

Oleksandr Chamorsov: Not that you shouldn’t rely on it. Here I want to address veterans and tell them that you should go to sanatoria because you’ll get a lot of interesting stuff out of it. First, there are medical procedures there; second, if this is a sanatorium where they do rehabilitation, there are your brothers-in-arms there. Even if you don’t go to a psychologist, it’s nothing scary. 

Mykhailo Kukin: But for the sake of habilitation you do need to talk to your brothers-in-arms.

Andriy Ilchenko: I want to explain what’s happening now. There are civilian organizations which are into adaptation: this is “peer to peer”. There is the state which tries to do something but nothing’s coming out of it. And there are regular organizations which invite regular psychologists of general profile who think that they can do something but, regrettably, they only do harm. 

Mykhailo Kukin: We have prepared a package by a correspondent of Hromadske Radio, Kateryna Kader, about “Pobratymy” organization, and this is this rare example of a useful organization.  Our correspondent took interviews from military psychologist and trainer of the “Pobratymy” public association, Andriy Kozynchuk, and military psychologist, head of the “Pobratymy” public association, Artem Denysov. 


 ATO Veterans Think Tat It Is Easier To Go To A War Than To A Psychologist: “Pobratymy” Public Organization

What was the start of all this and what does your organization do?  ваша організація?

Artem Denysov: Our organization is into such a “thing” as psychosocial adaptation of veterans according to the “peer to peer” principle. This means that we conduct 4-stages trainings with total duration of 20 days. We took as a basis a Danish system called “Bodynamics”, a body-oriented approach in psychotherapy and trainings the author of which is Ditte Marcher. The major advantage of this trainng is that veterans work with veterans.  

Please tell how you select participants for your trainings and how one can join them? 

Artem Denysov: We work with those who want to work. We don’t snatch people in the streets and don’t make them come to our trainings. There are three factors that we pay attention to during our interviews.  First, this is a desire to work upon yourself. One of the slogans of our trainers is “It won’t be simple, it will be interesting.” Second, a conscientious refusal to consume alcohol, drugs and other substances which can influence your mind. The third criterion is the desire to pass on your own experience. When people go through their own traumas, through integration of experience into their own lives, they become stronger in this point. Starting from this point people can communicate with other people. 

Andriy Kozynchuk: I also am a graduate of these trainings. I came there as a skeptic and did not expect to get a new approach, anything interesting. I was not taught how to work with others, I was taught how to work with myself.  During Module 3, an “icebreaker” of my brain began and some changes began. I mean, not for better or for worse but in another direction. Now, we are interested in enrolling people who really want to change something. They do not know how, and they are not prepared to go to rehabilitation centers where they will be given massage. 

Artem Denysov: We have noticed that many veterans choose to work not with the shocks that they received at war but with those that they had before. War was just a catalyst of those conditions. And here we come to the fact that you don’t need to go to war to get shocks and traumas. 

How many brothers-in-arms has your organization managed to help? 

Artem Denysov: We consider this not help but support. All in all, there are almost 60 graduates of our training. 

Andriy Kozynchuk: We have probably one of the lowest numbers in Ukraine among public associations. We’re still conducting research. We can say accurately that the people who underwent training have changed radically, as for their efficiency or their life. Yes, our numbers are not what we’d like to hear. We decided to succeed in quality. We are prepared to different numbers but we are not ready to do it incubatorially, en masse. Approximately once every day I get letters from my brothers-in-arms telling me they need help. For me, this is help because great courage is required from a male veteran to come to our training or consult a psychologist. It is easier to go to war than to come back and put your gun aside. 

What kind of development do you see for “Pobratymy” public organization for the nearest years? How would you like to develop? What are your plans? 

Artem Denysov: We know for sure and clearly see that in any case we should go for cooperation with the state. 

Andriy Kozynchuk: You don’t see it now but I am breathing very deeply. 

Artem Denysov: Because if we create this without the state’s systematic support we won’t get the desired result. It is precisely cooperation, not takeover, it is when the state becomes a coordinator. 

Andriy Kozynchuk: This is international practice.


Tetyana Troshchynska: What does the state have to do?

Andriy Ilchenko: The state should heed public organizations which are already doing something. As of today, only in Kiev there are 14 thousand veterans. These people need support.  The veterans are people who have what to talk about, what to discuss, and what to be silent about within their own circle. 

Mykhailo Kukin: Do I understand correctly that the best support from the state’s side is an opportunity for veterans to unite themselves? 

Andriy Ilchenko: Yes, create veterans’ organizations which will engage in different directions. 

Oleksandr Chamorsov: In reality, the first signs of cooperation with the state are already there because “Pobratymy” are already being asked for advice, theyare being invited to conferences at some state bodies. They do heed us. 


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Цей матеріал було створено за підтримки International Medical Corps та JSI Research & Training Institute, INC, завдяки грантовій підтримці USAID. Погляди та думки, висловлені в цьому матеріалі, не повинні жодним чином розглядатися як відображення поглядів чи думок всіх згаданих організацій.

This material has been produced with the generous support of the International Medical Corps and JSI Research & Training Institute, INC. through a grant by United States Agency for International Development. The views and opinions expressed herein shall not, in any way whatsoever, be construed to reflect the views or opinions of all the mentioned organizations.