Ukraine Vets Make Pizza To Heal War Trauma
5 February, 2016

Pizza Veterano, one of Kyiv’s newest pizzerias, only hires veterans from Ukraine’s Eastern front. Founded in December 2015, by Rafail Agayev and Leonid Ostaltsev, Ostaltsev wants the “pizzeria and work here to be a transition period for people.” This is the primary reason why they only employ veterans as they want the pizzeria to be a place for people to “overcome any difficulties they may have” after they have “a hard time in their life.”.

Ostaltsev and Agayev, as veterans themselves, know that “soldiers won’t make up your friendship circle till the end of your life”, so the opportunity to work at the pizzeria is an opportunity for soldiers to “start to communicate differently with people who weren’t at war.” They perceive this as being an essential experience “in order to survive”, although they don’t want their staff to work at the pizzeria indefinitely. As Ostaltsev explains “I want such a person to quit and to develop into other spheres, or maybe even here with us. I want it to be a positive experience that gives them a push.”

In total, close to 70,000 National Guard soldiers have been fighting in the Eastern Ukrainian war, according to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense. Currently there are 140 000 professional soldiers who serve in Ukrainian Armed Forces.