KHARKIV, UKRAINE (AP) — Sitting in a comfortable armchair in a dimly lit room scented with lavender and pine trees, a man closes his eyes and takes deep breaths while listening to meditation music.
But this is no spa. Uniformed Ukrainian soldiers rest at this rehabilitation center in the Kharkiv region to rejuvenate before returning to the front lines.
Ten months of constant warfare prompted local commanders to convert the Soviet-era sanatorium into a recovery center for military personnel to treat mental and physical ailments.
Ukrainian Army Lieutenant Colonel Oleksandr Vassilkovsky said, “This rehabilitation will help the soldier rehabilitate himself for at least a week.
Vasylkovskyi remembers how soldiers silently suffered after returning home from fighting with Russia in Donbass, Ukraine in 2014. He hopes such centers can raise awareness of the need for mental health care and prevent future suicides.
Here, soldiers are offered a variety of treatments. Aquatic therapy in a heated pool to soothe sore muscles. Red light therapy to improve heart and blood circulation, salt room to improve breathing. For nightmares, electrosleep therapy — Soviet-era low-frequency electrotherapy said to relax the nervous system and induce sleep.
Psychologists are available not only for soldiers but also for their families coping with the trauma of war.
Military personnel also undergo medical examinations, Vasylkovskyi explained. “People develop several diseases from the stress of fighting, so that’s the most important thing.”
In addition to the mental wounds of war, soldiers come here to treat meningitis, bruises, amputations, inflammation of the lungs and nerves, sleep disorders, skin diseases, cardiovascular diseases, and more.
“If someone gets traumatized and can’t walk, my department puts them back up,” said Artem, a physiotherapist who works at the center whose last name cannot be given for security reasons.
More than 2,000 soldiers have been treated here since the center opened in June. We are backed by international partners in Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Poland, the United States and Spain. According to Vasylkovskyi, his one-day rehabilitation for one soldier costs about 20 euros. But he said more money was needed “because (the war) is not over”.
Viktor, who cannot reveal his last name for security reasons, worked as a miner before joining the military. He took part in the military operation to expel the Russian occupying forces from the Kharkov region.
For months he slept in a cold, muddy trench. “We worked in an unhealthy environment. Terrible, damp, damp,” says Viktor as he sits in a room with thick walls and floors covered in salt to clean his damaged lungs. Explained. Added.
After four days in the rehabilitation center, he felt fine. “I am already determined to go further, keep working, destroy my opponents, and bring victory closer to victory every day.
But perhaps the most attractive aspect of this rehab center, rather than therapy, is that you can bring your family over for a few days.
Like Viktor, Maxim cannot reveal his last name for security reasons, but he has not seen his wife and son for five months. One of the hardest parts of this war for him, he said, is when you can’t “connect and talk to your loved ones.” He was relieved to be with him for a few days at the rehab center and relax with him.
“The men return to the unit after a week and find themselves rested and even stronger. And the thoughts they had before fade away,” Maxim said. Some of my thoughts are memories of friends who died on the battlefield.
When asked how many companions he had lost, Maxim lowered his eyes and answered bluntly, “Too many.”
Follow AP’s war coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine