There’s a New Jersey native and Army veteran who’s made it his mission to help those who want to help Ukraine.
“Whether it’s military service or otherwise, people who can thrive in chaotic, uncertain and austere environments are the right person for it,” says David Ribardo.
Ribardo describes the few good people he seeks to send to Ukraine to help with humanitarian efforts or, in some cases, even help the Ukrainian military in its fight against the Russian invasion.
“Some people just needed a little push to be able to help,” says Ribardo.
The organization had to eliminate some right-wing militia members trying to sign up, and a group of friends with flawed video game-inspired plans to hijack a Russian tank. To do this, the group has 15 volunteers to do background checks and vet candidates to make sure they are recruiting people with the right experience. These people are then matched with the right organizations on the ground in Europe that can benefit from their help.
“We’ve had a lot of these low-key professionals – people with special operations experience…and I’m looking at this resume which is just a who’s who of every major conflict for the last 15 to 20 years,” Ribardo says. “They’ve been there, done that, so we were able to connect them with the right people.”
Ribardo says he was inspired by his experience in the military in Afghanistan, where he saw volunteers – including veterans – who assisted in mining and other non-combat missions in the area of war.
“I looked and said, ‘Hey, those guys in Afghanistan had a big impact. What can we do?’ Says Ribardo.
VolunteersForUkraine.org also matches donors willing to donate funds or even frequent flyer miles for a volunteer to travel to Poland or Ukraine, so even people who may not have the specific skills needed can always help put boots on the ground.
Ribardo says that as the humanitarian crisis worsens, there is an urgent need not only for people with military experience, but even more medical expertise.