Military psychologist Olena Fomenko joins front line alongside sons following Russian invasion
Fomenko has held a long-time position as a psychologist at the Chernivtsi Regional Psychiatric Hospital. She explained that after Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014, she began to treat new patients - Ukrainian soldiers battling war trauma upon their return to the front. Then, she decided to specialize in this area and become a military psychologist.
Olena, motivated to fight at the front, was drawn to this ambition as early as 2014
An article on Ukrayina.pl reports that Fomenko was already longing to join a brigade as a psychologist in 2015. But her plans were halted by her then eleven-year-old Volodymyr and ten-year-old Christian.
However, everything changed seven years later, when Russia invaded on February 24, 2022. This time, she knew she would go to the front, and her younger son decided to join her. "He said he would be with me in five minutes. We left together," she relays during a chat with suspilne.media.
When Fomenko arrived at the unit, the position of psychologist was already filled, but the shooter's slot was vacant. Having never held a gun, Fomenko chose to undertake the necessary training.
The psychologist's sons enlisted in the army, with one serving in her company
Since August of the previous year, Fomenko has served as a psychologist. She gives soldiers lectures, guides them on battling insomnia, and aids them in recognizing and managing combat stress. She leads stress resistance workshops and resolves conflicts. Soldiers from other companies also seek her advice.
"We have been together every day for seven months now, so they trust me implicitly. Almost everyone who knows me comes to me. They talk about things they wouldn’t share with their friends," Fomenko reflects.
She notes that many soldiers have had negative experiences with psychologists in the past. "You need to be among them to gain their trust, and then work with them," she emphasizes.
Both of her sons are now in the army. Christian serves in his mother's battalion as a shooter and has undergone drone pilot training. Meanwhile, Volodymyr serves as a company medic elsewhere. "There is immense anger in me driven by my children's situation. They are successful, educated young men; instead of studying and living in a peaceful country, they have to pick up machine guns. This anger fuels my determination to act," Fomenko shares on suspilne.media.