Ukrainian Catholic University is creating an Office for Affairs of Veterans and Their Families, which will become a center to provide support for soldiers returning from the war and their relatives.

Pavlo Koval, head of the Office for Affairs of Veterans and Their Families

Pavlo Koval, head of the Office for Affairs of Veterans and Their Families

The newly-created office will be headed by veteran Pavlo Koval. For 16 months Koval defended Ukraine in the ranks of the 125th Separate Brigade of the Territorial Defense of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. After receiving a bullet wound, he was discharged from service because of his health. Pavlo Koval has six years of experience managing projects in the civil sector.

The project Office for Affairs of Veterans and Their Families is part of the 2030 Strategic Development Plan of Ukrainian Catholic University. In this way, the university will take part in healing the wounds of war and renewing Ukraine.

“Our task is to create programs to foster the integration of veterans back into civilian life. After returning from the frontlines, our defenders deserve not only to lead a full-fledged peaceful life but also to take responsibility for the community and become leaders in society,” commented UCU Rector Taras Dobko.

Find out more about the office’s activities here: https://ucu.edu.ua/veterans/

The main tasks of the Office for Affairs of Veterans and Their Families are:

  • providing educational opportunities for war veterans, members of their families, and also for families of slain defenders of Ukraine;
  • creating a university community of veterans and an environment in which their needs will be considered;
  • helping organize instruction for veterans (diploma and certificate programs);
  • preparation and work with internal human resources politicians for helping veterans adapt to community life;
  • cooperation at the international level with universities which use best practices for work with veterans and their families, to share experience and create joint projects.

An important area of work will be providing legal, psychological, spiritual, and social support to veterans and their families, and also medical help, rehabilitation services and physical therapy, thanks to cooperation with the newly-created UCU Medical Clinic.

Pavlo Koval explained that the Veterans’ Office is now at the stage of forming a strategy for work for the next seven years: “At the start, it’s important for us to work at the level of UCU, to create a veterans’ community where they are understood, supported, and feel at ease. When I say ‘at ease,’ I mean that the needs of veterans are considered. This involves both the creation of an inclusive space and access to the university’s various resources.” 

Koval also emphasized the importance of work with the university’s students and staff: “After service, veterans return to an environment where they’ll be surrounded by people who do not have similar life experiences. So, in certain situations, misunderstandings can arise. Therefore, it’s necessary that the UCU community – professors, students, staff – are aware of the etiquette of interaction with veterans and also know how to behave in such situations.”

We add that recently, as part of the UCU Academy of Professional Development, the course “The veteran in the community” was launched. It aims to help integrate veterans into the university community and provide support and adaptation to new conditions and preparation for changes in life after service in the army.

According to Pavlo Koval, the office will also work with civic and government organizations and charitable foundations: “The UCU community is open to cooperation with various veterans’ environments. Clearly, the university will not be able to cover all the needs of returning soldiers, so we are now working to extend our network of partners. We expect that veterans will come to the office with certain needs and, if we cannot help with some request, we will direct them to partner organizations.”

Pavlo Koval at the same time emphasized the importance of creating a flexible system which will be able to adapt to new challenges: “The amount of soldiers returning from the war will continually grow. We are aware of the challenges that they now face. But in a few years, needs could change. So it’s important to be flexible.”

Addendum:

Pavlo Koval graduated from the National University of the Tax Service of Ukraine, specializing in “the economics of entrepreneurship,” in 2015. He eventually took a course to raise his qualifications in social work at the V. I. Poltavets School of Social Work of the National University of the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy.

He was coordinator of projects for mobile work with youth in Ukraine at Caritas, where he improved cooperation with partner organizations including pedagogical schools, social services, youth clubs, social dormitories, and other specialists. He planned project activities and interacted with donors. 

He was volunteer coordinator for Building Ukraine Together and eventually coordinator in the social service department of the Lviv Education Foundation (now Ukrainian Education Platform).

From September 2021 to February 2022, he worked as regional director of Proton University of the Third Age of the Let’s Help!  charitable foundation.

In March 2022, he joined the ranks of the 125th Separate Brigade of the Territorial Defense of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. After receiving a bullet wound, he was discharged from service because of his health.