(WGN) — Five thousand miles from his Chicago home, Harrison Jozefowicz answers the call of service amid a war zone in western Ukraine.
“It’s very surreal when you see it,” Jozefowicz said. “We just had a day of training with the Georgian legion. They are completely volunteers just like us, and they’ve been here since 2014.”
Jozefowicz served with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan and as a Chicago officer for three years. The former service member says he quit the department not long ago because of the Russian invasion, volunteering with the group Task Force Yankee: Ukraine.
“This shouldn’t happen to anyone, and I know there are a lot of like-minded people here with me who feel that same way,” Jozefowicz said. “This war has only been going on for two weeks since Russia officially crossed into Ukraine, and it’s just phenomenal to see all these people coming together and knowing pretty much what has to get done and getting it done.”
For now, this former US soldier and Chicago cop will work to train civilians and provide support to other volunteers.
“There was a bombing nearby that killed nine people and wounded about 60 others, so we sent some medics to go help out at the hospital with that,” Jozefowicz said.
Along the way, Jozefowicz has helped Ukrainian families to safety.
“These people are just amazing because we’re not seeing a group of people who are running away from their homes. These people are here and they’re defending their cities and their livelihoods and their business and families. It just makes you want to keep digging deeper,” he said.
The Army veteran says the U.S. pullout of Afghanistan is part of why he decided to make the dangerous trip, a volunteer mission to help a nation in need – leaving his family, for now, in Chicago.
“They support me, my family, they support,” Jozefowicz said. “They don’t fully understand because this is 100% volunteer, but they’re seeing what I’m doing. I’m telling them, so they’re getting more supportive, so it’s not too bad.”
His hope is for peace in a country besieged by a neighbor and its powerful military.
“You would have thought you’d never see this kind of conventional warfare ever again,” Jozefowicz said. “But here we are.”