Goodacity – Dare to be Good

Olha Sahal
Written by
Olha Sahal
Written by
Technical Writer at United Thinkers

I am the author of the Goodacity blog, a journalist, and a translator. For 16 years, I have worked in professional journalism, contributing to regional and national publications, both in print and online media. I have written reports, conducted interviews, reviews, articles on cultural, social, and charitable topics, as well as materials in the style of "solution journalism" and communication materials.
Read more

Yulia Didyk
Reviewed by
Yulia Didyk
Reviewed by
Culture Manager at United Thinkers

I am a manager of cultural affairs and a project manager with over 14 years of experience at United Thinkers. I have participated in the organization of numerous successful social and charitable projects and have implemented informational campaigns and communication cases.
Read more

A Protector with a Bionic Arm Assembles Drones and Assists Amputee Soldiers!

rehabilitation of veterans

An arm of metal and a spirit unbreakable!

Veteran Mykola Voronchuk, with a bionic arm, assembles drones!

“I lost my arm, but not my faith in myself,” says Mykola. “Love brought me back to life…”

After his injury, he married the woman he loved, proposing at a concert with a ring held in his new bionic hand!

Today, we talk with Mr. Mykola about how to accept trauma, turn pain into strength, and the rehabilitation of veterans!

rehabilitation of veterans

Lost My Arm, But Not My Faith in Myself...

Mykola Voronchuk hails from Vinnytsia region, Ukraine.

“I’ve loved electronics since childhood. As long as I can remember, I was always tinkering with something, soldering things,” Mykola laughs. “I’ve been shocked by electricity more times than I can count, but that never changed my love for it…”

By profession, Mykola is a locksmith-electrician and worked for “Ukrzaliznytsia” (Ukrainian Railways).

“On the first day of the full-scale invasion, I was at work and saw Russian missiles flying right over our heads. They were flying to destroy and kill… I knew they had to be stopped, and thought, ‘if not us, then who?’ I went to the military enlistment office several times. They turned me away because there were plenty of volunteers back then, and I had no experience or military specialty, plus I had a railway worker exemption… I collected and repaired batteries and power banks for the military, and in August 2022, I went to war.”

Mykola served in the 79th Air Assault Brigade of Ukraine, initially coordinating artillery, then becoming a gunner. He and his brigade were in the Donetsk direction, Ukraine, where it was always “hot” and challenging.

“What was the hardest part of the service? The main thing was getting into the right mindset—if you are psychologically prepared for anything that might happen, it makes it a lot easier to endure war. Yes, it’s tough; yes, there’s immense fatigue; yes, it was cold and hungry at times, but if you know why and for whom you’re there, you can endure and bear it all. I went to protect my family, my loved ones — and after my injury, they brought me back to life. I lost my arm, but not my faith in myself…”

rehabilitation of veterans
rehabilitation of veterans

Proposed to His Beloved at Pivovarov's Concert!

“January 16, 2023, is both the most terrifying day of my life and my second birthday,” says the Ukrainian defender. “Despite all the horror I went through, I can say I was very lucky — I managed to survive and get out.”

The Russians stormed our position: we held the fight as long as we could, but we ran out of ammunition. During the battle, I was wounded, my comrade was killed, and the Russian soldiers took over our position. Three of our Ukrainian guys were captured, but instead of taking them as prisoners, they were taken to a nearby grove and executed. My injury saved me — the occupiers cut my clothes and left me in the cold, saying, ‘let him die.’ It was very cold then, but that cold saved my life because I didn’t bleed out. Five hours later, barely conscious, I noticed our drone hovering above me. I waved at it—the guys sent a combat medic, and we ran four kilometers through a mined area back to our own. Fortunately, we made it.”

rehabilitation of veterans-02

What followed was evacuation, hospitalization, and surgery — the doctors told Mykola that his injured right arm couldn’t be saved and had to be amputated. Initially, it was tough for him. But his family — his beloved and his children — didn’t let him sink into feelings of inadequacy and self-pity.

“From the hospital, I called my beloved Yana—  we weren’t officially married at that time — she comforted me, saying everything would be fine. Still, I worried, thinking, ‘who needs me without an arm?’ But when Yana came to visit me in the hospital in Dnipro, Ukraine, a few days later, I realized: she is the one for me, in joy and in sorrow.

I remember covering my shoulder with a blanket to avoid scaring her with the sight of my stump, and she told me, ‘What are you afraid of? I understand everything, and it doesn’t change my feelings for you.’ Her support meant the world to me; she literally brought me back to life!”

“After getting my prosthetic, I proposed to her, holding the ring box in my new bionic hand.”

The video of Mykola’s proposal — on stage during Artem Pivovarov’s concert in Vinnytsia — is impossible to watch without tears…

“I said this on stage when I proposed, and I’m ready to repeat it every day: my beloved saved my life! Her waiting, her prayers… Her love and support. I came back a little less whole,” he smiles. “Now I’m a bit of a cyborg. But I returned to my beloved wife and my children.”

rehabilitation of veterans

Rehabilitation of Veterans: Injuries and Prosthetics Are Not a Sentence. It's a Chance to Become Better and Learn Something New

“I had a strong motivation to overcome post-traumatic stress disorder — at home, I do everything; there’s no ‘men’s’ or ‘women’s’ work. You have to constantly develop, not stand still. An injury and a prosthetic are not a sentence. It’s a chance to become better and learn something new. And you can live fully with a prosthetic — if you’re willing to work on yourself and learn many new things. Comprehensive rehabilitation of veterans is crucial: both physical and psychological.

I was fitted with a prosthetic in America, in Minneapolis — I liked the people there, open and sincere: both Americans and our Ukrainian diaspora. At the ‘Protezfoundation’ clinic, they installed a smart bionic prosthetic from ‘EsperBionics,’ made in Ukraine. I brought the hand from Kyiv, Ukraine, and it was fitted to the prosthetic in the States.

Yes, the first days were tough, but all of us guys there quickly got the hang of our new limbs and used them right away. It took me half a minute to make one move with my new hand.”

“The next day after the installation, I was already holding a paper cup.

What can I do with my bionic hand? Anything my imagination allows! Seriously, though, it wasn’t immediate, but through daily work on myself, I mastered almost all the usual household tasks with the prosthetic. Yes, fine, delicate work is still tricky, but I know that the more persistently I train, the more time and effort I put in, the more I’ll be able to do… Most of the limitations are in the mind.”

During his rehabilitation, Mykola assembled his first drone, deciding that he wanted to help and bring our victory closer.

rehabilitation of veterans

“Yes, it’s not easy, especially with a ‘metal hand.’ My older son, Kosti, who is 13, helps me — he helps with soldering and assembling the frames. That’s a big help. My younger son also gets involved, and my wife supports us, and we buy parts from the family budget — it’s a family effort, you could say.”

More than ten ‘birds’ built by his hands have already flown to our soldiers.

“It’s not the numbers that matter, but the fact that if I can build drones with a prosthetic, then anyone can,” he says. “So get involved, assemble, and help, because it’s very important and necessary, and it saves lives — I’ve seen it firsthand.

Starting in June, Mykola and his wife will be working at the ‘Protezfoundation’ clinic in Zakarpattia, Ukraine.

“I have my own experience of what I’ve been through and a desire to help my fellow soldiers accept themselves after trauma,” says the defender. “From my experience, I understand that it’s easiest for a soldier who’s been severely wounded in war to open up to another soldier. That’s why my wife and I took the initiative, and we want to help the guys together: I’ll focus on psychological support, and she will handle the digital aspects…”

rehabilitation of veterans-04

“On the internet, everyone ‘believes in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, prays and thanks them,’ but when they meet a veteran with a prosthetic on the street, they avert their eyes and try to slip past quickly…

There have been times when a child walks with their mother, and the children are curious: ‘Mom, look at that man’s hand…’ To which the mother responds, ‘Don’t go near, you can’t!’ Why not? Children are curious about the prosthetic: they want to come up and ask, what is it, how does it work, can they touch it? Don’t forbid them, don’t scold them, let them come up and ask.”

“There are many guys like me with prosthetics, and people need to know how to react appropriately and explain to their children. When adults see that a child is not ashamed or afraid to talk to a veteran with amputations, they will stop lowering their eyes and find it easier to communicate too.

It hurts when people ignore the war — even when it comes closer to their homes… It hurts when they choose the path of least resistance.

You know, in physics, there is ‘Ohm’s Law,’ which says that the lower the resistance, the faster the flow of electrons. People mostly choose the path with the least resistance — because it’s easier. But there are situations in life when you need to choose not what is easier, but what is right. What is necessary — even if it’s not easy. I made my choice. And I don’t regret it.”