Supporting the Sexual Health of Ukraine’s Injured Veterans

Sexual health is a topic that is often overlooked when discussing the well-being of veterans, particularly those who have experienced physical and mental trauma. However, a charity in Ukraine called ReSex is aiming to change that by providing support and resources for veterans to navigate their sex lives after injury. The project, which was inspired by similar initiatives in the United States, has received an overwhelmingly positive response since its inception.

One of the veterans benefiting from the project is Hlib Stryzhko, a former marine who was injured during Russia’s invasion of the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol. Hlib suffered multiple fractures and was captured as a prisoner of war. After his release, he found limited medical care and little support for his sexual health. When ReSex approached him, he saw an opportunity to contribute to the project and help others who may be facing similar challenges.

ReSex, run by the group Veteran Hub, aims to provide comprehensive guidance and support for veterans in their sexual relationships. They have distributed booklets to medical centers, veterans, and their families, as well as launching a social media campaign with videos, graphics, and a helpline. The charity covers a wide range of topics, from basic biology to the use of sex toys. They have also created separate guides for men and women, recognizing the need for tailored advice for different experiences and bodies.

It’s important to note that ReSex’s focus isn’t solely physical; they emphasize the emotional aspects of sex and intimacy in relationships. Their goal is to help veterans build healthy relationships with themselves and their partners, fostering self-acceptance and love. By addressing the emotional side of sexual health, ReSex acknowledges the impact of traumatic experiences on veterans’ overall well-being.

However, the project does have its limitations. One of the challenges faced by ReSex is the lack of responses from the LGBTQ community, highlighting the need for more inclusive research and support. Additionally, they have identified a concerning trend of undiagnosed and undertreated traumatic brain injuries among Ukraine’s veterans, which significantly impacts libido and sexual performance.

The language used to discuss sex is crucial, according to ReSex. They strive to avoid dramatic language or framing sexual health as an obstacle to be overcome. Instead, they promote a supportive and understanding approach, reminding veterans that they have agency in their sexual experiences and that it may take time to adjust and heal.

The success of ReSex in Ukraine is a testament to the importance of addressing the sexual health of veterans. By providing resources and support, the charity is helping veterans regain confidence and rebuild healthy relationships. Moving forward, it is essential for initiatives like ReSex to continue raising awareness about the unique challenges faced by veterans and to expand their efforts to be more inclusive and comprehensive in their approach. Supporting the sexual well-being of veterans should be an integral part of the broader support systems in place for those who have sacrificed so much for their countries.