Lesia Vasylenko

As founder and chairwoman of the Legal Hundred NGO, Lesia has been working to ensure the respect of veteran rights in Ukraine. Since the beginning of the conflict in the East of the country Lesia has set up a network of lawyers specialising in veteran social benefits, created a legal aid hotline and is set on developing a network of regional legal assistance centres, all of which make up a system of easy access legal assistance to the half a million veteran community. 

The legal aid vehicle helps identify systemic legislative problems, which need to be addressed. Thus, Lesia has drafted concept papers offering solutions to issues of social support and adaptation. The proposals have been adopted at government level and been developed into legislative drafts, the adoption of which the Legal Hundred has successfully advocated for. 

Lesia is the author of a 178 page user-friendly guide on veteran rights, which is being used by government bodies, NGOs and veterans across the country and is the single unified source of information on veteran rights in Ukraine. She has pushed for change in the process of receiving combat veteran status, which has allowed to solve the problem of the backlog of applications for this status, which then gives the right to apply to benefits. Lesia has co-authored the Law of Ukraine on the amendment of principles of contractual service in the Ukrainian military, thus renewing the rights of over 80 thousand military officers to have a freedom to end contracts when the term of such contracts runs out. 

The current focus of Lesia’s work is the development of a systemic national action plan on the social adaptation and rehabilitation of veterans of the conflict in the East of Ukraine. Lesia has been successful at developing a concept for this action plan and now is working on formulating specific steps and budgets of the action plan. The aim of the action plan is to introduce realistic and effective veteran social policies, allowing full re-integration of ex-combatants into civilian life. 

Lesia is also targeting the issue of partnership between the government and NGOs in finding solutions for veterans and changing budgeting principles for programs.