Germantown police chaplain shares experience in Ukraine during the war
MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- This Ukrainian Independence Day came with a word of caution from their President to keep any celebrations low-key. The war rages on, and we have an exclusive opportunity to better understand the full picture from a local police chaplain.
Greg Young has been with Germantown police for years, but he also travels the world training other chaplains. He just returned from Ukraine. His biggest take home is that Ukrainians still need our support.
"What was it like you know? How do you begin to process and unpack that?" said Greg Young, Germantown Police Chaplain.
Greg Young and his team are home after a week in multiple cities of Ukraine, speaking in lecture halls full of eager cadets, talking moral trauma and death notification.
"I said there are gonna be times when we get choked up, we're gonna be triggered by a memory or something," said Chaplain Young.
What they saw was pain on the faces of fellow chaplains and regular people.
"And she said see that building? That was attacked and was not habitable. She said up there used to be my home. My family used to live there and the whole section, the middle was just totally destroyed by a bomb. We could feel the loss. We could feel the heartache. We could hear in our hearts and minds the loss and all of the horrible things that had happened there," said Chaplain Young.
Young's team flew in to Warsaw, then took a nearly 10-hour drive to their first stop across the border.
"We had brought over through one of our team members ballistic vests, military grade with helmets, special permits so that they would be wearing those because they're gonna be where the action is," said Chaplain Young.
Young encouraged national Ukraine police to take care of themselves with peer support, forgiveness and activities like walking and journaling. Rescuing people, bringing food to bomb shelters, not your average street patrol.
"But really they're having to turn serve and protect in a different way," said Chaplain Young.
Young first traveled to Ukraine in 2019. When Russia invaded early this year.
"My wife and I were watching television news and she says, you need to go, don't you? When we were at the refugee center, I will say this, I saw a little girl and her mom and we gave her money. I had to go out into another room and just let the tears just flow down my cheek and wipe them for a minute before I came back in the room. She had that thousand-yard stare. She had come there. She had come there with nothing," said Chaplain Young.
Ukraine has held its independence for 31 years. On Flag Day this week, Young says people were out in the streets holding up their blue and yellow - blue for the sky and yellow for the sunflower fields. Young called the Ukrainian people resilient, tenacious and warm -- he especially appreciated what they call the" bro-hug".