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28-year-old Garden Grove veteran injured while volunteering as combat medic in Ukraine

US Marines participate in attack rehearsal at Shiroky Lan training center in Ukraine during exercise Sea Breeze 2018, July 13. (Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ryan Riley/U.S. Navy)

Just over a week ago, a 28-year-old Garden Grove veteran was sitting inside a Humvee in Ukraine when what was likely a Russian rocket struck the vehicle, according to his former colleague and friend Scott Caceres.

Giovanni Roman had been in the country since December to work as a volunteer combat medic alongside the Ukrainians. He survived the initial impact, but lost his right eye and sustained other severe injuries, including extensive head trauma, Caceres said.

Roman has already undergone one surgery but is facing poor-quality medical care, he added. In the meantime, he sits at a Ukrainian hospital awaiting care while Caceres and others scramble from afar to get him home.

Caceres, a Santa Ana police officer, said he’s known Roman for nearly a decade and was his emergency contact while in Ukraine.

“I met Giovanni seven years ago and he convinced me to join the Marine Corps. We served in Japan together for a year,” Caceres said.

After the Marines, Roman, who was born and raised in Santa Ana, worked as an emergency room technician at local hospitals, including Kaiser Permanente in Irvine.

Roman had joined the U.S. Navy on contract when Russia’s war on Ukraine began a year ago and ultimately decided to leave the Navy in order to serve as a volunteer in the embattled country, Caceres explained. Before arriving in December, Roman had also made a short month-long trip in mid-2022, also serving as a combat medic.

Caceres said Roman aspires to serve as a firefighter or policeman and was “well-known for helping others” while in the Marines.

Go Fund Me was started Tuesday for Roman that aims to raise funds for medical care and his transport back to the U.S.


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