The online publication Rivne Media, in the project “Rehabilitation of the Military in the Rivne Region,” aimed to assist military personnel in accessing high-quality rehabilitation services within regional medical institutions. The objective was to highlight existing issues in the rehabilitation sector, draw attention from officials, and facilitate prompt solutions to enhance the overall rehabilitation process in the region. You can learn from their experience and start preparing to welcome the defenders now.

Society should greet its defenders with dignity, not forgetting them, and we, as journalists, should contribute to this cause. Every soldier should know that people are grateful to him, and that he is needed here, in civilian life.

However, today, veteran politics on a national scale is still in its early stages and is in the process of formation. Another critical part that needs to be worked on is rehabilitation. After returning from the war, defenders primarily require high-quality rehabilitation – both physical and psychological. Only then do considerations such as grants, benefits, etc., come into play.

With a large circle of communication and trust from readers, we, as media professionals, can influence the improvement of the rehabilitation system and advocate for a smooth adaptation process for the military. Therefore, our goal is to assist the military in accessing high-quality rehabilitation services in medical institutions of the Rivne region. We aim to draw the attention of officials to the current problems in the field of rehabilitation in the region and expedite their resolution. We also concluded that we should assist citizens in availing themselves of state-guaranteed psychological and adaptive support. We aim to support them in resolving the challenges faced by employees and patients of rehabilitation centers in the region. An important focus in our work is to help residents of the Rivne region receive services from nonmedical rehabilitation methods, which are effective in adapting the military and are implemented by volunteers.

With a large circle of communication and trust from readers, we, as media professionals, can influence the improvement of the rehabilitation system and advocate for a smooth adaptation process for the military

We had conceived all of this even before learning about the project competition from UMBA and the EU Delegation to Ukraine. But to solve the tasks set, we needed to hire additional personnel, produce handouts, and so on. All this required funding, which we did not have the money for. So we prepared, looked for money, and finalized our idea. And such a “better time” has come thanks to the support of our UMBA project and the EU Delegation to Ukraine.

Even before applying for the competition, the editorial team did a lot

Journalists started working even before the project proposal was submitted, and they did a lot of work. They conducted a survey, investigated issues in rehabilitation centers, and engaged in conversations with readers and military personnel who are currently undergoing treatment or have completed treatment, among other activities.

Through our informational efforts, well over 7 thousand residents of the Rivne region, including military personnel and their relatives, became aware of institutions where they can access state-guaranteed opportunities for psychological assistance, as well as physical and psychological rehabilitation. Six servicemen who directly approached journalists from Rivne media received detailed and informative answers to their questions about rehabilitation. Nearly 30 military personnel decided to explore adaptation with animals, while more than 180 people used all the functionalities of the veteran space recreation center and sought advice from specialists.

Our results: 30 military personnel are undergoing adaptation with animals, more than 180 people have utilized the functionalities of the veterans’ space recreation center and sought advice from specialists. Additionally, psychologists will be involved in each of the 14 youth centers in the Rivne region. And that’s not all

We didn’t just tell our audience about the options. Throughout the project, we successfully developed mechanisms for inviting psychologists to each of the 14 youth centers in the Rivne region. We also facilitated an even distribution of patients in medical institutions where rehabilitation services are provided, aiming to improve service provision. Additionally, we created a database of medical institutions offering recovery services in the region, encompassing both physical and psychological aspects.

”Rivne for Veterans” event in the city center, Olha Leliuk and Oleksandra Yaroshyk.

Thanks to our efforts, the issue of the lack of rehabilitation “points” in the communities of the Rivne region will be addressed by incorporating it into the financing of the regional program for the implementation of veterans’ policy. Rehabilitation facilities will be established on the premises of schools in villages and towns, involving either a physical education teacher or a visiting rehabilitation specialist.

Another area of our work was collecting feedback from the patients. More than 20 people provided us with their reviews about medical institutions. The Rivne Media staff directly conveyed these recommendations and comments to representatives of the medical institutions, enabling them to analyze and implement improvements in their work. And also to establish high-quality communication with your audience, including with our participation.

To achieve the result, we had to step out of our comfort zone

The implementation of the project was a challenge for our team, because we have never done anything like this before. But they really wanted to contribute to helping the military and were ready to test themselves outside the news-making.

The implementation of the project was a challenge for our team, because we have never done anything like this before

Now, we can confidently say that each team member has enhanced their strengths, identified ways to compensate for their weaknesses, and stepped out of their comfort zones to achieve the intended results. Thanks to the project, we also succeeded in enhancing the material and technical infrastructure of the editorial office, upgrading the website. These improvements are expected to positively impact the number of views, contribute to the development of the editorial office, and enhance the skills of the team as a whole. We have been trained in working with social media and, in particular, with YouTube, and already have some ideas on how to implement the advice received in the work of our editorial staff in the future.

Brochures as part of the “Rivne for Veterans” campaign.

Throughout the project, the materials were read by 7,125 people, and we received over 50 material shares along with 190 likes from users on social media. Additionally, on the Telegram channel, 37 people liked posts within the project. (During the project’s implementation, the media’s Facebook page was blocked, making it currently impossible to investigate reactions on social media more accurately).

Our materials were read by 7,125 people, and we received more than 50 shares and 230 likes on social media. Additionally, almost 80 readers acknowledged using our information, and six military applied directly to the editorial office through a special form on the website

By the way, we consider each of the platforms as a separate database for audience accumulation. Therefore, for greater coverage, we use Facebook, Telegram, and Instagram. The purpose of such platforms is to reach as many people as possible. However, since the format of different platforms involves presenting information differently, the specifics of readers on each platform vary. To facilitate the audience’s transition between these platforms, we include re-links in posts to redirect them to other pages. In this way, we stabilize and balance the audience and increase the number of followers. It is important that social media provides the option to comment and respond to information easily, simplifying the communication process with readers.

Working with the audience was crucial in this project. It was essential for us to know how valuable the information we provide to our readers is. Therefore, to gather quantitative data on the utilization of information generated by citizens within the project, we established a feedback form on the Rivne Media website. This form is available in each article published as part of the project. The questionnaire includes the questions: “Was this information useful to you?” and “Did you use this information after reading it?” Additionally, there is a section for providing a detailed response or review of this publication. In less than a month, we received over 80 responses and reactions from readers, with only 4 people indicating that they do not use this information. We believe that this is a good result in a short period of time. We also received feedback from 6 military who contacted the editorial office regarding rehabilitation and treatment through a special form on the website.

Furthermore, we are continuing with the project and highly recommend the same to you

We would like to highlight the reviews from the military separately. Throughout the project, both the military and other readers expressed gratitude to the editorial team for disseminating crucial information and promoting the idea of gentle adaptation after returning from the front. The leaders of institutions involved in animal therapy expressed warm words for the stories about non-standard rehabilitation methods for the military. The teams of rehabilitation centers provided positive assessments for their assistance in the development of the system. It is gratitude that inspires us to move forward and contribute to the development of a society that is friendly to the military.

It is gratitude that inspires us to move forward and contribute to the development of a society that is friendly to the military.

We are proud that we have managed to improve the environment in which military find themselves after injuries, optimizing conditions for a less traumatic return to civilian life and recovery from injuries. Defenders can access better rehabilitation, improve social skills, overcome unconstructive fixation on their condition, restore healthy communication, and, most importantly, become accustomed to a calm, relaxed state.

Round table discussion on the development of veteran policy in the Rivne region, participants of the event.

However, during the study of the rehabilitation system in the Rivne region, we identified problems that can only be resolved over time. For instance, enhancing the material and technical facilities of medical institutions, increasing the capacity in certain rehabilitation departments, and expanding the staff of employees requires substantial funds, a lengthy bureaucratic process, and time. We have also exerted efforts on these issues – encouraging officials to pay attention, respond, and assist in solving these problems.

Therefore, the project “Rehabilitation of the Military in the Rivne Region” will continue, albeit on a smaller scale, as we cannot independently manage the same volume of activities. However, as mentioned at the beginning, the project itself is a long-term initiative because the duration of the war is uncertain, and the number of veterans, including female veterans, is gradually increasing.

First and foremost, we advise our colleagues who want to replicate our experience to respect the personal boundaries of the military. The vast majority of them are not ready to talk about their falls and victories in public. In those cases, offer them anonymity.

Equally important is that every successful project involves well-coordinated teamwork, so choose people you trust and enjoy working with. For project managers, it is valuable to explore the strengths of each team member and delegate responsibilities based on individual preferences. This way, your work will be better and more efficient.

We also draw your attention to the fact that society should be prepared to welcome its defenders, so we need to work in this direction today. Even now, with not so many of them, it is necessary to develop a comprehensive system of assistance so that when they return home from the front, they feel care and gratitude for protection from enemies.

Authors: Olha Leliukh and Olesia Huberniuk.

This publication was created with the support of the European Union. The content is the sole responsibility of the Ukrainian Media Business Association and does not necessarily reflect the position of the European Union, whose financial support made the project possible.