Oleksandr (Alex) Chaika arrived in Maryland not quite two weeks ago, but already is walking confidently on the prosthetic leg he received for free from the Medical Center Orthotics and Prosthetics of Silver Spring.
Tuesday, the Ukranian soldier gratefully thanked U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md,) and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill,) and all others who welcomed him and gave him “a chance for a new life.”
Through an interpreter, Chaika said, “Thank you America for your help in our fight for this war of independence, and we hope that we can win, and we wait for this win.”
Chaika joined the military in March and was wounded just one month later when a tank shell burst near him, and fragments entered his leg and buttocks. He ended up buried beneath dirt and iron beams. It took 40 minutes for his fellow comrades, as he called them, to free him and get him to a miliary hospital.
As a result of his injury and the resulting gas gangrene, his leg was amputated up to his hip.
He spent three months in intensive care in Ukraine when the Future for Ukraine Foundation stepped in, first finding him a prosthetics clinic in his native country and eventually flying him to Maryland and paying for the Airbnb, where he and his pregnant wife are staying.
The help and rehabilitation he is receiving here “has changed my life. America will always be in our hearts,” he said. “For me, it’s like a chance for a new life.”
He hopes one day to return to teaching and coaching. Prior to enlisting, the 33-year-old was an athlete, choreographer and acrobatics coach for children.
Mike Corcoran, co-founder of MCOP, where he was fitted for his new leg, said his organization was happy to help. “What is going on in Ukraine is horrible.”
Corcoran and his staff moved quickly. Chaika came to this area on a Wednesday, had a cast of his leg made the very next day, and he started rehabilitating shortly thereafter with assistance from Adventist HealthCare. Chaika also spends hours at a local gym, Corcoran said.
MCOP has committed to assist up to six wounded Ukrainians with prosthetics as part of its Operation Renew.
Ukrainian soldier is being treated at Silver Spring at Medical Center Orthotics and Prosthetics @mymcmedia pic.twitter.com/glSU0HkKJO
— suzanne pollak (@SuzannePollak) October 11, 2022
Honored to join my friend, veteran @SenDuckworth, to meet Ukrainian solider Oleksandr Chaika who was wounded in the war & just received a prosthetic leg from @medicalcenterop in Silver Spring. We told Alex we will continue to support him & the brave people of Ukraine. pic.twitter.com/wvNuehCT3z
— Senator Chris Van Hollen (@ChrisVanHollen) October 11, 2022