Washington veteran heading to Ukraine to teach soldiers first aid

A local veteran is taking his military leadership experience and combat medical skills to the front lines in Ukraine, knowing that he could pay the ultimate price.  

Former military medic Branden knows how to help those wounded.

"It's a calling that feels as natural as when, birds fly south to the winter, you feel it in your bones and your heart and it feels this is the right thing to do," he said.

A decision he said was an easy one to make seeing the aftermath of the Russian invasion.

"You have anger because you see the human suffering," he said.

The veteran is one of the thousands who heard President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's call for help.

He says in that moment he realized he has a moral obligation to lend a helping hand.

"If I can teach a group of their civilians and their civilian defense force, basic emergency medicine or tactical combat casualty care, and they in turn can teach that and save lives and save a life of a preventative injury because they know how that's a huge win," he said.

He knows the dangers he faces walking into the war-torn country.

"I'm not married, I don't have kids and this experience-- I will just be a better man from it," he said.  

The veteran is headed to West Ukraine, where he'll be there for at least three months, honoring the men and women, mentors, who have selflessly served our country and paying it forward to the people of Ukraine.

"I could be dead in 12 days, and I've never felt better and more just certain, I'm totally dedicated and dead set on what I'm doing here,’ he said.  

He's geared up and is learning both Ukrainian and Russian.

While the situation is fluid, he doesn't let that affect his focus.

"I'm terrified but I'm committed, 100% committed," he said. "I need to be strong for other people, other people are going to depend on me."

His priority is saving lives and inspiring others to take action.

"You don't have to wear your uniform to serve, you can still serve in the community, you can do things that are of service and have value," he said.  

He's leaving April 11.

Before he leaves, he’s still serving our community while going on what he calls a ‘gratitude tour’.

"Appreciate the little things and take life a little bit slower," he said. "The sun's a little brighter, the coffee's a little sweeter. pet the dog a little longer, because those moments can be gone really quick."

If you’d like to help the veteran, his goal is to coordinate with the most vulnerable TSP (trauma stabilization points) and field hospitals to provide critical EMS supplies.  

Here’s how you can help with tourniquets and any other medical supplies. 

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