“My dad returned from the war”: winners of the UVF program published a comic book for children of veterans

Imagine the situation: a man, a veteran, returned from the war. He is trying to gradually adapt to the realities of civilian life after the hell he has been through. And so one evening the veteran sat down to play a computer game. His son is playing calmly next to him. And so the boy decided to play a joke with his father: he crept up behind him and closed his eyes with his little hands… The man quickly grabbed hold and turned sharply towards the probable “danger”, ready to fight back. A second of analyzing the situation, and the veteran tightly hugs his frightened son. He is no longer at war. 

What are the stories of veteran Ilya Shpolyansky about

This and other stories are told by ATO/JFO veteran, serviceman Ilya Shpolianskyi. Some of the stories are from his own experience, some are from the stories of other veterans. Ilya is a member of the NGO “Association of ATO Participants and Disabled Persons” in the city of Mykolaiv, working to ensure that veterans and their children learn to understand each other in the new reality. The team implements the project “My dad returned from the war” within the framework of the “VARTO+NGO” competition from the Ukrainian Veterans Foundation. This is a comic book that will help explain to children how to deal with parents who have returned from the war, how to support and understand them.

The idea of the project arose in Ilya Shpolyansky 5 years ago. The veteran is a father of 3 children and knows from his own experience what it is like to adapt to civilian life. Together with his brothers, Ilya defended the country in 2014-2015. And upon his return, he became one of the founders of the NGO “Association of ATO Participants and Disabled Persons”. The non-governmental organization implemented many projects, and after the full-scale invasion of the Russians, Ilya and other members of the organization returned to the army. Currently, Ilya is the commander of the combined detachment of the “Angry Birds” attack UAVs.

During the full-scale invasion phase of the Russian-Ukrainian war, the idea of helping children better understand their parents returning from the front became even more urgent. Therefore, the team of the public organization undertook its implementation. The Ukrainian Veterans Fund helped in this.

“I thought, it is necessary to explain to the veteran’s child in an understandable language: what happened to me at the front? Why am I not like everyone else? How should we continue to live together? So, at the moment, we are producing a comic book “My dad came back from the war”, with a publishing run of 1,500 copies. Leading psychologists of Ukraine work in the team. We approach every issue in the project in great detail. We discuss every frame, every picture so that, God forbid, we do not harm children or their parents. Because this is a difficult topic. We approach it from different sides. What does it look like through the eyes of a veteran? And through the eyes of a child, a wife?”, the author of the idea says.

Why comics are effective for children

The head of the project, Ksenia Davchenko, is sure that comics are the most effective way to explain complex things to a child in simple words.

“Literature does not allow visualization, and cinema greatly limits our imagination, sets certain images. Children are interested in comics because not everything is depicted, something remains “out of the frame” – it is intriguing. The artist seems to be clinging to a thread and unwinding a tangle of images in the imagination of young readers. Easily and unobtrusively, as if playfully giving answers to difficult questions. And you don’t notice how you become the Hero of the comic!”, Ksenia says.

Ilya adds that all the events in the comic are realistic, so that not only the child, but also his father, a veteran, or his mother, a veteran’s wife, believe in them.

“So that it doesn’t turn out that the child brings it to dad and says: “Look, what a comic.” And dad will answer: “It’s not like that at all. Everything is not like that at the frontline.” This will definitely not happen. After all, this is a project created by veterans for veterans and their families. We understand what we are talking about,” Ilya Shpolianskyi explains passionately.

Who is the main character of the comic?

The main character of the comic, Patron the cat, will help to talk about such a complex topic.Yes, you are not mistaken, it is a cat.

“This is not a plagiarism of a well-known, beautiful dog. Patron is my real cat. – the veteran says with a smile. – He went through combat operations in Donetsk region with me and I brought him home. He lived with us for a long time, but Patron is very free-spirited and ran away to live on the street. And now the hero of the comic Patron explains to the children what is happening with their father. Explains that dad isn’t bad, he’s just different. Because dad is a hero”.

Families of veterans will be able to get a comic free of charge by filling out an application. The team of the public organization is confident that the project will help in communication of veterans families.

The project provides a number of tasks for the child to complete after reading the comic, and as a result (in case of successful completion of the quest) they will receive a gift from the project team.

Next, the NGO plans to create a comic book: “My mother returned from the war”, because tens of thousands of women serve in our army.

“This comic will be popular both in the USA and in Israel. I’m just sure of this, because these are also countries of veterans and these problems in families are relevant for them as well,” says Ilya.

Банківські реквізити:

Український ветеранський фонд
ЄДРПОУ 44565396
МФО 820172
в Державна казначейська служба України м. Київ

Реквізити підприємства/ Company details Назва підприємства/ company Name УВФ IBAN Code UA863052990000025300015000517
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SWIFT code банку/Bank SWIFT Code PBANUA2X
Адреса підприємства/ Company address UA 01001 м Київ пров Музейний б.12
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Рахунок у банку-кореспонденті/Account in the correspondent bank 890-0085-754
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Назва банку/Name of the bank JSC CB “PRIVATBANK”, 1D HRUSHEVSKOHO STR., KYIV, 01001, UKRAINE
SWIFT code банку/ Bank SWIFT Code PBANUA2X
Адреса підприємства/Company address UA 01001 м Київ пров Музейний б.12
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