HAMTRAMCK, Mich. (WXYZ-TV) — A metro Detroit man is joining thousands of foreign military veterans suiting up for Ukraine.
On Monday, Dan Rebar will board a bus to Chicago to fly to Warsaw, Poland. From there, with the help of a local guide he'll cross into Ukraine where he plans to join the International Legion of Defense of Ukraine in Kyiv.
It was a decision that for him, came after Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on foreign military veterans to help in Ukraine's defense.
“I read his statement that he was calling for citizens of the world to unite, it was like that sensation. Like, there it is. I knew this as coming," Dan told Action News. “When you’re expecting a visitor, and you never know when they’re going to show. But then you hear the knock on your door, and you’re like I knew this was coming."
Dan, who served in the Air Force in the 90s, feels with his skill-set, this is his calling.
It comes at a time when Ukrainian civilians are facing growing threats as Russia intensifies its strikes in Ukrainian cities like Kharkiv and Mariupol; the latter, Russia is now claiming is under its control.
“It’s painful to watch. But you know thank goodness that we’re able to see these things and we’re made aware of theses things because we now have an opportunity to stop it," Dan said.
He's leaving his job as a security guard at the Ren Cen to join a unit of the International Legion.
Dan first visited the Ukrainian Consulate here in metro Detroit to find out how he could enlist to fight. The official channels he admits, can take time.
It's time he wasn't willing to waste, so after visiting the consulate a second time, finally he got connected with Sasha Tkachenko who helps run United Support for Ukraine out of Hamtramck. In a large warehouse there, volunteers work around the clock collecting donations to send over in bulk to Ukraine.
Part of Dan's journey to Ukraine will include hand delivering goods Sasha and his team have collected.
“The priority of the travel is to bring a whole lot of these supplies overseas," Dan said, pointing at a mountainous pile of suitcases and first aid supplies neatly packed up.
After delivering the aid supplies, Dan will meet a local contact to bring him to Kyiv where he will meet up to join their defense forces.
“It’s become real. And training comes back," he said.
Training that Sasha and his team are already benefiting from. Dan and two of his combat medic friends helped local volunteers properly assemble hundreds of personal medical packs for the front line; packed in a way that soldiers can easily grab lifesaving tools like tourniquets.
It's already making a difference, Sasha said.
“Giving us a lot of good feedback from Ukraine because like people who’s receiving those bags, they’re saying like this is amazing.”
As of now, Dan's time in Ukraine is open-ended.
“This is helping me in my heart," Sasha said.
But he's not taking Dan's volunteering lightly. Sasha is from Kyiv and has family and friends there still.
“I have my friends already there sitting on the front line. And I’m going to be thinking about one more person," Sasha told Action News.
United Support for Ukraine has received an outpouring of support he said, including donations. But they're still in need of specific medical supplies including the following items:
They are also accepting cash donations to purchase supplies themselves. Donations can be dropped off at 134000 Girardin Street in Hamtramck.