Why are American hospitals treating wounded Ukrainian soldiers?
09/21/2023 // Cassie B. // Views

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made headlines earlier this week when he visited Ukrainian soldiers in a hospital to thank them for their service and dole out commendations. But there is one aspect of the story that is raising a lot of eyebrows: the hospital where the soldiers are being treated is in New York.

Zelensky, who was in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, couldn’t resist the chance for a photo op with Ukrainian fighters undergoing treatment at Staten Island University Hospital. He was pictured with injured soldiers, some of whom were using prosthetic limbs or confined to wheelchairs. He also toured the hospital.

According to the CEO of the company that owns the hospital, Northwell Health, 18 soldiers have been treated there since March.

They’re not the only Ukrainian soldiers the U.S. is treating. Earlier in the conflict, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin approved the use of a U.S. military facility in Germany, Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, for treating Ukrainian soldiers. The 100-bed Army command hospital, which is situated near Ramstein Air Base, is the biggest American hospital outside the U.S.

While the idea of helping people in need is certainly a noble one, there are a lot of questions that come to mind. Are taxpayers paying for this treatment? Who paid for the soldiers to be transported halfway across the world, and why was this necessary when there are so many other hospitals throughout Europe that could have rendered aid?

It’s particularly stinging when you consider the fact that there are numerous American soldiers who are struggling to get proper treatment, whether it is through the many failings of the VA hospital system or the steep costs of treatments that aren’t covered by their benefits.

Until every American soldier wounded in battle has the medical treatment, prosthetics and psychological help they need, we should not be fitting pricey prosthetics to foreign soldiers. How do our many veterans who have to rely on charity feel when they see these soldiers accessing treatment they have struggled to obtain? And what about the many civilians who also struggle to get good and affordable medical care in the U.S.?

Biden administration has given billions to help Ukraine

Of course, this isn’t terribly surprising when you consider how much aid the U.S. has sent Ukraine since the Russian conflict got underway. We have sent billions of dollars in weapons and equipment, security assistance and training, and humanitarian aid. It is difficult to keep track of the precise amount, but it certainly exceeds $100 billion. And the number is expected to keep rising. In fact, during Zelensky’s visit to the U.S., he intends to meet with President Biden to ask for more assistance as the conflict rages on.

“I will thank the United States on behalf of Ukraine for its assistance in our struggle for independence and freedom,” Zelensky said.

Reuters reports that Biden plans to announce a military aid package totaling $325 million today to coincide with Zelensky’s visit to Washington, D.C., where he plans to visit Capitol Hill and the White House. The package will reportedly include more cluster munitions and other new weapons, along with short-range air defense systems and missiles.

Biden will use Presidential Drawdown Authority to make it happen, which allows him to transfer services and items from American stocks in emergencies without first obtaining approval from Congress.

Most Americans are opposed to this type of assistance. A poll carried out by SSRS on behalf of CNN found that 55 percent of Americans do not want Congress to authorize further funding to help Ukraine, while just over half believe the U.S. has already done enough to help them.

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