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Analytical Report on the Results of Study. Civil society organizations working in the veteran sphere 2023.

The study "Civil society organizations working in the veteran sphere" was initiated by ISAR Ednannia and carried out by the Vox Populi agency within the Ukraine Civil Society Sectoral Support Activity, which is implemented by ISAR Ednannia in a consortium with the Ukrainian Independent Center for Political Research and the Center for Democracy and the Rule of Law thanks to the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The study was conducted in the period from May to August 2023 using qualitative and quantitative methods of sociological research.

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Veterans as a separate social group began to stand out noticeably with the beginning of the Russian-Ukrainian war and the anti-terrorist operation in certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts since 2014.  Their needs are emerging in contemporary public discourse, in particular, in the context of the establishment of new commemorative practices, honoring the memory of soldiers and those killed during the ATO and JFO.

In order to understand the general context of veteran social issues, it is worth briefly recalling the results of previous studies that were carried out in this area in order to compare them with the current situation. According to the data of the Ministry of Veterans Affairs, as of July 2019, there were 369,451 people in Ukraine who received the status of a participant in hostilities (UBD) from among those who defended the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and participated in ATO.  The share of women among participants in hostilities actions amounted to 15,000 (4.1%) in 2019. All these people belonged to various departments; majority belonged to the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine (68%), smaller numbers - to the National Guard, the Ministry of Internal Affairs (10% each), the State Border Service, the Security Service of Ukraine and others. A survey of veterans conducted before the start of a full-scale invasion created a "portrait of a veteran" in Ukraine before a full-scale invasion on February 24, 2022. According to the data of this study,  92% of veterans are  male (respectively, 8% are female), most often (in 55% of cases) they belong to the age group of 30-44 years, most often (in 70% cases) they reside in the administrative centers of the oblasts. The largest part of the respondents came from the northern macro-region (27.7% - Zhytomyr, Kyiv, Sumy and Chernihiv oblasts, as well as the city of Kyiv), the smallest - from the south (10% - Mykolaiv, Kherson and Odesa oblasts). Most of the veterans - 65% - are married, the largest share of veterans found themselves in the ATO zone in 2014 - 2015 (35% and 28%, respectively). Even before the start of the full-scale invasion, the majority of veterans (64.3%) believed that their rights were not sufficiently protected at the state level. About a third of veterans have occasionally encountered a violation of their rights (32.8%), which correlates with the data of other sociological studies.

Today, according to Analytical Information, provided by the Ministry of Veterans Affairs of Ukraine, the total number of persons covered by the Law of Ukraine "On the Status of War Veterans, Guarantees of Their Social Protection" is 851,0685. Among them 438,834  are participants of the fighting that took place during ATO/JFO. The largest number of veterans of the Russian-Ukrainian war belong to the age group of  31-40 years old (43.5%), the share of women among veterans is about 9%.

At the same time, according to the head of the Ministry of Veterans Affairs, after the end of the war, there will be at least 4 million citizens who,in one way or another, will be related to the veteran sphere. How are our state and civil society preparing to meet the challenge of supporting these people?

During the period of the ATO/JFO up to and including the beginning of the full-scale invasion on February 24, 2022, initiatives were implemented in the field of psychological, legal, economic, and educational support for veterans, and society's perception of the veteran community was changing. For example, in 2019, 62% of respondents expressed a positive attitude towards veterans, in 2023 - 93% of respondents trust veterans who will return from a full-scale war, and 95% - veterans of the anti-terrorist operation (ATO) of 2014-2021.