October 16th, 2023

Mark and Sam visit the military ward in a hospital in Kyiv.


I just arrived in London on the way to a shorter but very busy trip to Ukraine. We will cross the border into Ukraine tomorrow morning. My daughter Samantha is a singer/songwriter and a few months ago she contacted me and asked if she could come to Ukraine with me and share her music with wounded soldiers orphans and school children. Samantha has a huge heart, and while the music industry can be lucrative, she feels that her passion and her purpose is to use music to bring joy and healing to people who are suffering.

So, after clearly describing the situation here, and giving her resources to study, and bluntly explaining the risks, she still wanted to come. I am incredibly proud of here for her courage and selflessness. So here we are.

I have kept this close hold for operational security reasons. We will not be going to the front, but missiles drones and airstrikes are still an issue all around the country. I have coordinated visits to three military medical centers, three orphanages, and a middle school English class. In addition, I have meetings scheduled to check the progress of our mobile school project with “Little Tania,” the night vision initiative, the house repair in Sumy, and additional medical support for the units we sponsor. All these projects are possible only because of you all. I have a sea bag full of tourniquets, chest seals, BOA IV constricting bands, trauma shears and more. And of course a good supply of the knitted bears and amazing handmade hats from Gloria Brown and Joan Roberts in Sedona and their nationwide team. Of course, in true fashion, I fully expect plans to change, obstacles to pop up, and new opportunities to emerge. One thing that is constant about Ukraine is that no matter how meticulously you plan, you will get “Ukrained.”

We will be teaming up with a woman named Lila Trokhymets and her group. Her brother Roman is a very well known soldier here and has made several appearances on CNN and other US outlets. Roman was seriously wounded in combat and during his rehab, he has observed the shortcomings of the military medical situation in Ukraine. They have nothing like the VA and only recently began rehabilitative care for the wounded. The primary purpose of rehab here is to get the soldiers back onto combat as soon as possible. The scars and lifelong trauma will have to be dealt with later. It is common to see amputees in the trenches here, and TBI is going to haunt this country for a generation.

At the suggestion of her brother, Lila has organized group trips to the medical and rehab wards. They also supply the soldiers and hospitals with food, equipment and supplies that would be common and expected in US hospitals. So thanks to you, we will be contributing to that effort as well.

Visits to the other hospitals and children’s venues are possible due to the contacts I have been able to make here over the last 18 months of war.

We are all aware of how the war here has fallen off the news cycle and the world’s radar. The Middle East, congressional disfunction, election politics and the budding Taylor Swift Travis Kelce romance now take the headlines. Here, winter is a few weeks away. The Russians have mounted a suicidal counterattack in the eastern city of Avdiivka and fighting is fierce. My friends there say the russians have resorted back to undisciplined human waves, hoping to overwhelm Ukrainian positions. In addition, we expect the winter bombing campaign to begin any day. The Russians will once again strike the energy sector that has been 80% rebuilt from last years brutal but unsuccessful campaign. They continue striking the grain infrastructure and reinforcing areas in Zaporhizia to slow the Ukrainian counterattack, which began in June and had made slow but steady progress.

More to follow.

Mark and Sam