In a poignant display of resilience and unwavering determination, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine arrived in New York to address the United Nations General Assembly. His mission: to rally support for Ukraine’s ongoing counteroffensive against Russian forces, now in its harrowing 18th month. With a heart burdened by the suffering of his countrymen, President Zelensky embarked on a poignant visit to Staten Island University Hospital, where wounded Ukrainian soldiers receive vital medical care, including prosthetic limbs and rehabilitation services.
A Glimpse into the Hospital Room
In a vast hospital room adorned with hope and healing, President Zelensky witnessed a remarkable sight. Ukrainian soldiers, adorned in khaki uniforms, displayed sheer determination as they practiced walking and lifting weights with their newly acquired prosthetic arms and legs. The air was filled with an unspoken spirit of resilience.
Amidst this scene of determination, President Zelensky engaged with the soldiers, offering words of encouragement and hope. He extended his hand in a heartfelt gesture of solidarity, shaking their hands—those who still had them. The pain and sacrifice etched into the faces of these brave soldiers were undeniable, and President Zelensky could not hide his own emotions.
“Is it tough?” he asked one soldier, and the reply was a humble “A little.” Another soldier, hailing from the battle-scarred Zaporizhzhia region in southern Ukraine, tried to put on a brave face as he responded to Zelensky’s query about his well-being with a simple, “It’s okay.”
In these solemn moments, President Zelensky’s message was clear and poignant: “Stay strong.” A simple yet powerful plea that resonated with the soldiers, who continue to bear the scars of war.
The Healing Touch of Staten Island University Hospital
Currently, nine Ukrainian soldiers are undergoing treatment at this remarkable hospital, a symbol of resilience and hope. Over the past year, the clinic has provided crucial support to a total of 35 servicemen, offering them a chance to reclaim their lives through cutting-edge medical care and the compassionate assistance of Ukrainian-American NGO Kind Deeds, which supplies prostheses for war amputees.
The toll of war is often measured in hidden, painful statistics. Kyiv does not disclose war casualty figures, but the gravity of the situation is underscored by the estimation of US officials, who believe that nearly half a million Ukrainian soldiers have been wounded or killed, as reported by the New York Times last month.
In a final gesture of gratitude and support, President Zelensky bid farewell to the soldiers, expressing his heartfelt sentiment: “Get home soon, thank you for your service.” These words carried the weight of an entire nation’s gratitude.
The Resilience of Ukrainian Servicemen
In another room, President Zelensky, accompanied by dedicated medical staff, conveyed the astonishment of American doctors at the resilience and dedication of Ukrainian servicemen. One physician marveled at the soldiers’ strong desire to return home—a testament to their unyielding spirit.
President Zelensky affirmed the nation’s collective hope for their return, stating, “We all will be waiting for you to come back home, we absolutely need every one of you, every strong Ukrainian fighter in order to defeat our enemy. I am convinced that it will certainly happen.” These words resonated as a vow to persevere, a promise that the sacrifices made by these brave soldiers will not be in vain.
A Sobering Message to the World
As President Zelensky prepared to address the UN General Assembly, a journalist inquired about the possibility of sharing the same room with Russian representatives. His response carried the weight of diplomacy and resilience: “It is, for us, very important that all our words, all our messages, are heard by our partners. If in the United Nations still … there is a place for Russian terrorists, the question is not to me—I think it’s a question to all the member states.”
These words underscored the gravity of the situation in Ukraine, where resilience and hope coexist with the stark realities of conflict and suffering.
A Glimpse of Humanity
In the midst of these powerful encounters, President Zelensky took the time to pose for photos with the soldiers, offering a glimmer of humanity in the face of adversity. One particular soldier, who had prosthetics for both arms and bore deep emotional scars, received special attention. After the photo was taken, President Zelensky helped the soldier sit back down, embodying a compassionate spirit that transcends borders.
As President Zelensky concluded his visit to Staten Island University Hospital, he left with words of encouragement and hope: “I wish you victory and to come back home.” These words encapsulated the unwavering determination of Ukraine’s soldiers and the indomitable spirit of a nation.
In the midst of adversity, President Zelensky’s visit serves as a poignant reminder of the resilience and strength that define the Ukrainian people. Their journey toward healing and victory continues, fueled by the unwavering commitment of their leaders and the courage of their soldiers.