Daniel Salem spoke about fighting at the front and losing his hearing: “Tomorrow my breakfast may be my last”


Ukrainian TV presenter and entrepreneur Daniel Salem – about service in the Armed Forces and life at war in an interview with Viva!

After February 24, they changed their tuxedos to a pixel, a microphone to a machine gun, a film set to a dugout and began to defend our country. These are TV presenters, musicians, actors who have become soldiers. Everyone has their own story, and everyone has the same motivation – our victory.

In the special project “Stories from the war» – about everyday life in war zones, fears and challenges, faith in tomorrow from the mouths of those whom we are used to seeing on TV screens and whom we follow in social networks.

Do you remember how you met last year 2022? And how did you meet this new 2023?

I was at work last year. The establishment was in my house. At 23:58 I got home, kissed my daughter and went to work again. This year, I celebrated at a gas station on the way home from Kherson together with the cashier Ms. Tatiana, to whom I paid for gas, and the operator of the gas station, Mr. Boris, who filled this gas. They ate tangerines and drank coffee.

Since you went to serve, what has changed the most in your outlook?

A lot has changed. First, the people around me. Secondly, the situation has changed. It is no longer possible to be on halftones at all. I have become more sassy and speak my mind. What has changed is that my daughter is not with me now. In general, feelings have changed. Everything became very bare, painful.

I started to hate Russians, I don’t listen to Russian songs, I don’t read in Russian. A lot of aggression, but along with it came a lot of love for one’s country, daughter, Ukrainians, oneself, great respect for our nation. I started reading more about Ukraine.

How do you maintain your fighting spirit? What helps you to hold on and move forward with positivity?

A phone call from my daughter keeps my fighting spirit going. I spend a lot of time alone. I look at who is next to me, who are my brothers-in-arms, with whom I go to zero, complete tasks. It is important to me. I understand that this is a special time. Ready to accept the situation as it is. I know tomorrow may be my last breakfast, so I appreciate today. How can you look at it without a positive attitude, without a smile? No confusion, only smiley faces.

You graduated from a medical university with a specialty of ophthalmic surgeon. Did you have to use your knowledge of medicine during the war and how?

Yes, helped out many times as a combat medic, although it is not my specialty now. He even inserted a tampon into the bullet wound. I understand everything that needs to be done. In general, during my studies and work as an ophthalmic surgeon, I performed more than 268 operations.

Tell us about your injury. The moment when you lost your hearing: can you remember how it happened, under what conditions and what you felt then?

Yes, I remember everything. It there was a grenade explosion near me. It hurts a lot. You lose consciousness, do not understand where you are, nausea, poor coordination. It is scary. You understand that near you now is shooting, close contact. We are a shooting group, so we are constantly in close contact. Now I have lost my hearing in my left ear. I don’t hear anything. When the war is over, I will deal with treatment.

That is why you became the ambassador of the right campaign “Hear? Plus. Plus”? Can you share the details of what this is about?

Yes of course. Much needed initiative. This is also the rehabilitation of those military personnel who already have hearing injuries. This is how, for example, I am. And protection against such damage with the help of active earplug filters that respond to powerful sounds. These are not headphones that you use when needed. They can be worn for a long time. And they don’t block normal sounds, meaning you can hear everything around you. “Feel” has been helping Ukrainians with hearing impairment for 10 years. Now their experience is invaluable for the military.

To what extent does hearing injury hinder you in military life and how did you adapt to it?

I always turn my head to the right side to hear. I feel a little inferior. I try not to think about it, I manage. You know, it’s based on the principle: we can’t fly – we’ll walk, if we can’t walk – we’ll crawl.

What are the most common injuries at the front? What do you think can and should be done to prevent them?

The most frequent injury ― contusion. We always get micro and macro contusions. Any explosion, shooting – a microcontusion is guaranteed. You may not necessarily immediately feel the negative consequences of all that. It has a delayed effect. That is why it is necessary to prevent such influences. To then hear the Victory salute, the daughter’s laughter, the surf of the Black Sea. Individual protection filters for which “Feel” is fundraising within the “Hear? Plus. Plus” is precisely about this, about preserving the hearing of the Ukrainian military for a peaceful life.

What do you think is the first thing our defenders will need after victory to return to a peaceful life?

I am not an expert in these matters. But I think it should be a comprehensive approach and help. Medical, psychological, legal, insurance, even banking support. A soldier comes home and takes the war with him. It is difficult. Defenders need to know that they are cared for and loved.

Like all of us, you probably imagined the moment when our Victory was announced? What is the first thing you will do at this moment, which will certainly happen?

The first thing I will do is cry. I am very sentimental.

I will cry, I will hug my brother who will be next to me, I will watch how our coolest president will announce this historic moment to the country.

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