‘I don’t care as long as I’m contributing’: Washington man heads to Ukraine to join the fight

Mar 14, 2022, 1:45 PM | Updated: Mar 15, 2022, 8:48 am
Washington, Ukraine...
International volunteers have trickled into Ukraine from across the globe to join the fight. (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has seen Washington communities rally to send support, but Odessa native Jeremy Smith is taking it upon himself to take that a step forward by going to Ukraine himself.

How to donate to Washington organizations providing aid to Ukraine

Smith — who has worked in the bail bond industry for over two decades — plans to land in Poland with a group of men from Seattle, receive the proper paperwork from the Ukrainian embassy in Warsaw, and then travel into Ukraine to offer assistance in whatever form that might take, be it search and rescue, manning a checkpoint, helping refugees, or, if necessary, joining the fight itself.

“I may get over there and they may put a gun in my hand,” he told KIRO Newsradio’s Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin. “We don’t know at this point what exactly I’m going to be doing, but regardless of what they want me to do over there, I don’t care as long as I’m contributing.”

As for why he decided to take this risk — especially since he’s getting married this summer — he says that while he’s against violence, he’s “anti-bully,” and has been inspired by the spirit of Ukraine’s people.

“And basically, right now, I’m seeing Russia as the bully on the block,” he clarified. “I understand our country’s not going to do anything about it, and with good reason since they really can’t at this point, but I see a lot of people over there suffering needlessly.”

In terms of his physical fitness, Jeremy — who’s 42 years old — says that he’s in the best shape of his life, and already has the equipment he’ll need to survive combined between his time as a bail bondsman and a recent trip to Spokane’s Army Surplus store. That includes things like body armor, medical kits, and more, with weapons expected to be provided by Ukrainian forces on the ground.

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His fiancé Amanda will be waiting at home in the meantime, and explained to Gee and Ursula that she’s not only supportive of Jeremy’s plan, but that it was actually partly her idea.

“When we saw everything happening on the news and when the Ukrainian president came on and I watched Jeremy’s reaction, a day or two went by, and I was like, ‘I’m really shocked that you haven’t started like planning your trip there,'” she said.

“Denying him the option to go would be denying a part of him that I love, and a part of him that exists,” she continued. “And accepting that, yes, he is going and there’s a potential that he may not come back to me. But at the same time, I know his heart and I know his fighting spirit, and I know and trust his abilities, and I trust the men that he’s going with and he’s going to be protected.”

Listen to Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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‘I don’t care as long as I’m contributing’: Washington man heads to Ukraine to join the fight