Sen. Tom Brewer returns to Ukraine to witness warzone

Throughout June, Sen. Tom Brewer will travel about 2,000 miles to the warzone under the protection of the Ukrainian Army.
Published: Jun. 2, 2023 at 6:30 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - During breaks in the last legislative session, State Senator Tom Brewer returned to his office, where he was greeted by old Russian helmet, an army jacket, a sniper rifle scope, a pistol case, a blood type card and a blue and yellow flag.

These items encircle a labeled map of the Ukraine, the war-torn country he’s travelling to this weekend.

“When I was there last time, they were a country that had been at war and had not done that well,” Brewer said. “They were able to push the Russians back to Kyiv, but the eastern part of Ukraine was being controlled by the Russians, and they were taking back ground. And it was tough times.”

The 43rd district senator has been to the country five times before. Three of the times, he was flying helicopters from Ukraine to Afghanistan. He’s visited twice since the Russian invasion. His most recent trip was last year.

Throughout June, he will travel about 2,000 miles under the protection of the Ukrainian Army. They’ll cross the Poland border and move through Ukrainian cities, including the capital, until they reach the warzones in the Zaporizhzhia region.

“The trick is to be close enough to understand what’s going on, and not to become a part of the war because obviously, this will be one of the largest land wars since WWII,” Brewer said. “And it will be a very violent place, and a lot of things may happen in a hurry if there’s a breakthrough.”

While abroad, Brewer’s itinerary includes visiting a military hospital, observing damage done by missile attacks and learning about the struggles faced by farmers. He said he is looking forward to seeing how the Ukrainian army has grown with more training and American aid.

“They’re equipped,” Brewer said. “They’re confident. They want to end the war because many of their families are in Germany, Poland, Romania, the United States, and they want to bring their families back.”

Brewer said he is excited to see officials he met during his past trips. His packing list includes gifts like a 1911 pistol, U.S. lapel flags and coins.

He also plans to bring a suitcase full of radios, batteries and chargers to give to chaplains on the frontlines. Chaplains are trained civilians who are a part of the Ukrainian Army.

“Ukraine is a small country in a sense that it’s almost like everybody knows everybody or somebody knows somebody that knows somebody,” Brewer said. “And so the word gets back about the things that we’re doing here

Alongside gifts, he wants to bring a copy of Nebraska’s recently-passed legislative bill that allows Ukrainian refugees to get driver’s licenses. He said he hopes to share experiences and stories with Nebraska’s leaders.

“That’s kind of special that you can do something here to help Ukrainians,” Brewer said. “You don’t have to go all the way to Ukraine necessarily.”