Vail area man on a mission to Ukraine
Tyler Schmidt and longtime friend Greg Miller are self-funding a medical aid trip to the war-torn country
Longtime friends tend to think alike. That’s why Greg Miller isn’t sure whether he or Tyler Schmidt came up with the idea to launch a self-funded medical aid mission to Ukraine.
Schmidt and Miller are both retired from service in the U.S. Army’s Green Berets. Miller is a physician’s assistant and Schmidt is a nurse practitioner. Both are combat-experienced medical professionals. Both saw the humanitarian toll taken by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and are following their first instinct to help.
Schmidt is a longtime Eagle County resident. Miller runs the Redo Men’s Clinics in Denver and near Austin, Texas. The pair met in the Army in 1989 and have been fast friends ever since.
The men have tried to link up with medial assistance groups since the first days of the invasion, but have run into little but snags and red tape. That’s why they decided to just go. They’ll arrive in Warsaw, Poland, April 9, then make their way into Ukraine. The men have some of their own gear: body armor, helmets and such, and intend to just show up.
“It’s hard to say no (to people) when they’re standing in front of you,” Miller said.
A 90-day schedule
Schmidt said the idea is to be gone about 90 days. That’s as long as someone can stay in Poland without a visa. Ukraine has waived visa requirements for those coming to help.
Besides, Miller said, he needs to get back to his business, and thanked Dr. Carl Bonnett, his medical supervisor in Texas, for keeping that clinic running in his absence.
Since both men have been deployed with small-unit special forces teams, they’re using that knowledge to plan the trip and possible evacuation options.
“We’re going to plan this like a military operation,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt, 58, isn’t working at the moment. He and his brother are currently caring for their father, who also lives in the Vail area.
Schmidt said his father and brother are “on board” with this trip, although both will sometimes ask, “are you sure about this?”
“Those people need us,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt said he doesn’t expect he and Miller will get too far east into Ukraine, where the bulk of the heaviest fighting is. But, Miller said, he’d like to end up as far forward as possible. That’s where the need is, particularly for soldiers.
No matter where the two end up, they’re ready to help, whether that help is in the form of hands-on care or as “force multipliers,” training people to provide medical assistance.
“If they don’t want us to put hands on patients, OK; who can I train?” Miller said.
Schmidt and Miller’s desire to help comes from the heart, but heart doesn’t pay for airline tickets and other necessities. Schmidt has set up a GoFundMe page for the effort. That page hasn’t gotten much traction yet, but there’s still time to help. Just like two friends who want to help strangers in another country, while there’s still time to help.