Army hospital in Germany treating Americans wounded in combat in Ukraine
Stars and Stripes September 25, 2023
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — A former Marine who joined the fight against the Russians in Ukraine seven months after he was freed from Russian captivity in a prisoner swap created quite a stir this summer, when news broke that he was being treated for war wounds at a U.S. military hospital in Germany.
Trevor Reed may be the most high-profile of the American volunteers in the Russia-Ukraine conflict to become a patient at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, but he wasn’t the first and likely won’t be the last.
The Defense Department’s largest hospital overseas treated its first American casualty from the battlefield in Ukraine in February, hospital spokesman Marcy Sanchez said Monday.
And its first Ukrainian patient from the war, which began with a full-scale Russian invasion Feb. 24, 2022, was seen in November, Sanchez said.
The New York Times reported Saturday that LRMC had admitted 14 people wounded in the war, including Americans. On Monday, Sanchez revised that number up to 18.
Reed’s decision to go to Ukraine and risk being recaptured by troops of the country that had wrongfully imprisoned him for almost three years drew consternation from the U.S. government, which had taken great pains to secure his release, media reports said.
In late July, Reed’s name resurfaced in news reports saying that he was being treated at LRMC for injuries from a land mine explosion. He was expected to make a full recovery, ABC News reported, citing two sources.
Members of the Ukrainian armed forces have been treated there, as well as volunteers from the United States and other allied countries, Sanchez said.
Stars and Stripes first reported in April that the hospital had started treating Ukrainian fighters.
In June 2022, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin authorized LRMC to begin treating wounded Ukrainian forces, up to 18 at a time, Sanchez said.
The approval allows the hospital to provide the same level of care as it does to active-duty U.S. troops injured in combat.
“That takes into account our normal mission,” he said. “We’re not diminishing our services … or capabilities by providing that care.”
He couldn’t say immediately how many of those 18 patients were American or whether any Americans are being treated now at the 65-bed, Level II trauma center.
One American who received care at the hospital, Fox News correspondent Benjamin Hall, was not part of the fighting in Ukraine. Hall was severely wounded in Kyiv on March 14, 2022, in an attack that killed two other reporters.
An unknown number of Americans, many of them military veterans, have volunteered alongside Ukrainians. About 20 have been killed.
All the American volunteers treated there have been affiliated with a unit from the country’s armed forces, Sanchez said, adding that the hospital won’t turn away someone needing medical attention.
First, though, the injured must get to the front door of the hospital, an often arduous, dayslong journey over land from Ukraine. LRMC doesn’t transport patients, most of whom have received logistical support from nongovernmental organizations, Sanchez said.
The R.T. Weatherman Foundation, a private organization based in the U.S., paid for the ambulance transportation of some patients, allowing them to make the 30-hour drive through Poland and across Germany, according to The New York Times.
The organization says on its website that it has repatriated numerous Americans killed or wounded in Ukraine.
Most of the people who were brought from Ukraine for care at LRMC “are now doing well,” Sanchez said.