A former Army Special Forces medic is raising money to go to Ukraine and set up a triage station there for casualties of the Russian invasion. (Courtesy photo / Brent Kunzler)

A former Army Special Forces medic is raising money to go to Ukraine and set up a triage station there for casualties of the Russian invasion. (Courtesy photo / Brent Kunzler)

Skagway man prepares to head to Ukraine to provide medical aid

He’s raising money to set up an aid station inside the Ukrainian border.

A former Green Beret medic working at a Skagway clinic looked at the Ukraine situation and decided, though youth was somewhat behind him, that there must be some aid he could offer.

Now, Brent Kunzler is fundraising to help support a triage station in the beleaguered country. 

“I was in Iraq for quite a while. I’ve been in other places. I’m watching this mess unfold on TV and I just felt like I gotta go do something. I’m old, I’m fat, I’m out of shape, but there’s always something I can do,” Kunzler said in a phone interview. “I know some people, and we’re going to set up a triage unit close to the border in Ukraine.”

[Residents bring open minds, questions to Forest Service open house]

Kunzler, who is 70, will be flying to Europe in several days, securing medical supplies locally to save on shipping expenses before crossing the border from Poland and setting up the aid station. Kunzler recently moved to Skagway to work as medical director of a clinic there from Utah, where he hails from.

“I’m not going to stay very long. I’m going to set it up and do what I can do to make it work. I have some trauma bags I’m going to take with me,” Kunzler said. “We’ll head south to the crossing and set up in a place down there.”

Kunzler said he was moved by his experience in other war zones providing combat trauma care for special forces units to go help out. Russian forces have targeted hospitals, schools, and other civilian structures and shelters in “immoral, unethical attacks on civilian populations”, according to President Joe Biden, who called the attacks “Putin’s depraved onslaught.” The Ukrainian government claims thousands of civilians have died.

“Being in the military, you know if you get injured, you got only a certain amount of time to get it fixed,” Kunzler said. “You’re seeing a population pretty much decimated with indirect fire and aircraft unloading their (cruise missiles) or whatever they’re using. These people are sitting in their houses one day and the next day they’re just blown up.”

Kunzler, who trained as a Special Forces medic during the Vietnam War and worked his way up from ambulance driver to a physician’s assistant and medical director over the years, said he’s not intending to go to the front lines, though he’s prepared if they end up in combat.

“There’s always that threat,” Kunzler said. “It’s a risk you take. But it’s nothing I haven’t taken before.”

Kunzler said he won’t be there for long; he’ll go to help start up the aid station and then support it from outside the conflict area with support and supplies, if possible.

“We’ll make that connection. If I can start funneling either funds or supplies when I get back, that’s what I’m gonna do,” Kunzler said. “I’m just going over to help a little bit and maybe help a little more further on.”

The conflict is a critical one, Kunzler said, warning that WWII started in much the same way.

“I think it’s a good thing to put public awareness on,” Kunzler said.

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757-621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

More in News

A Princess Cruise Line ship is docked in Juneau on Aug. 25, 2021. (Michael Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
Ships in Port for the week of Sept. 25

Here’s what to expect this week.

A bracket fungus exudes guttation drops and a small fly appears to sip one of them.( Courtesy Photo / Bob Armstrong)
On the Trails: Water drops on plants

Guttation drops contain not only water but also sugars, proteins, and probably minerals.

Police vehicles gather Wednesday evening near Kaxdigoowu Héen Dei, also known as ]]Brotherhood Bridge Trail, while investigating a homicide. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
Police: Woman was walking dogs when she was killed

JPD said officers are working “around the clock” on the criminal investigation.

In this photo provided by the U.S. Coast Guard, a Coast Guard Cutter Kimball crew-member observes a foreign vessel in the Bering Sea, Monday, Sept. 19, 2022. The U.S. Coast Guard cutter on routine patrol in the Bering Sea came across the guided missile cruiser from the People's Republic of China, officials said Monday, Sept. 26.  (U.S. Coast Guard District 17 via AP)
Patrol spots Chinese, Russian naval ships off Alaska island

This wasn’t the first time Chinese naval ships have sailed near Alaska waters.

An Alaska judge has ruled that a state lawmaker affiliated with the Oath Keepers, Rep. David Eastman, shown in this February 2022 photo, may stay on the general election ballot in November even though he's likely ineligible to hold public office  (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Judge keeps Oath Keepers lawmaker on November ballot

Judge ordered delaying certifying the result of the race until a trial scheduled for December.

Water rushes down Front Street, just a half block from the Bering Sea, in Nome, Alaska, on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022 as the remnants of Typhoon Merbok moved into the region. It was a massive storm system — big enough to cover the mainland U.S. from the Pacific Ocean to Nebraska and from Canada to Texas. It influenced weather systems as far away as California, where a rare late-summer storm dropped rain on the northern part of the state, offering a measure of relief to wildfire crews but also complicating fire suppression efforts because of mud and loosened earth. (AP Photo / Peggy Fagerstrom)
Repair work begins in some Alaska towns slammed by storm

ANCHORAGE — There’s been significant damage to some roads and homes in… Continue reading

j
Sniffen indicted on sexual abuse counts

Sniffen will be arraigned Monday.

In this undated file photo the Trans-Alaska pipeline and pump station north of Fairbanks, Alaska is shown. (AP Photo / Al Grillo)
Oil price drop endangers plan to fund Alaska schools a year early

If oil prices fall, amount is automatically reduced to an amount the state can afford. At

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Juneau Police Department announces technology and reporting updates

Emergeny services and direct reporting will not be interrupted

Most Read