116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
JOHNSTON — Taras Slyvka, a Ukrainian-Iowan who lives in Dubuque, said in 2015 he lost two good friends who fought for Ukraine, and that now he has two more close friends fighting to defend Ukraine against the Russian invasion.
“They need help,” Slyvka said.
The state of Iowa is trying to do its part, announcing Wednesday it is shipping unused protective helmets and vests from state and local law enforcement agencies to Ukraine, where they will be donated with the hope of helping Ukrainian military forces and citizens.
During a news conference at Camp Dodge, where Slyvka spoke, Iowa officials said the state public safety department oversaw the collection of donated gear from its own reserves as well as 18 local law enforcement agencies around the state, and will send 146 protective helmets and 714 ballistic vests to Ukraine.
The equipment is considered retired by the agencies because of manufacturers’ recommended service life. Law enforcement officials said the equipment still is in usable condition.
“Once we learned the plight and the needs of the Ukrainian people, it was immediately apparent to us that we could put our decommissioned equipment to good use,” said Stephan Bayens, commissioner of the Iowa Department of Public Safety. “While this protective gear is beyond its recommended service life, it still is capable of providing a measure of ballistic protection where currently none exists. …
“I know it’s a small gesture. But if the equipment we donate today even saves one life or protects one family, gives the Ukrainian people any measure of hope, it was worth every effort.”
The state of Nebraska added to Iowa’s donation, officials said.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said the state stands ready to accept Ukrainian refugees and has notified the federal government. She said she does not have a projected timeline for when the federal government might ask Iowa to house Ukrainian refugees.
“I have had so many people — I’ve had mayors, I’ve had individuals, I’ve had families reach out to me and say, ‘I’ve got room in my home. We will do whatever we can to help the displaced refugees until they can get back home to their family,’” Reynolds said. “So I wanted to make sure that we weren’t the barrier in making that happen. … We’re ready."
Reynolds also said the state is working with Iowa Sister States and Meals from the Heartland in West Des Moines to help address food supply needs in Iowa’s sister state of Cherkasy, Ukraine.
Reynolds said there is not currently a need for volunteers, but donations to help cover costs of shipping the food to Ukraine can be made at iowasisterstates.org.
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