Covering war is all-consuming. Months on the road means putting your personal life on pause. You live within the story. It consumes you both physically and emotionally. 
A year ago, I didn’t realize how much this war would stick with me as a journalist and as a person.
I often find my mind wandering back to the faces of civilians who entrusted me with their stories. I think to the innocent victims still suffering, the families who fled, and our own teammates who never came home. 
Since Russia’s invasion, Ukraine’s largest cities have become a melting pot of international journalists aiming to shed light on this conflict.
My initial assignment sent my crew to cover the humanitarian crisis at Ukraine’s borders with Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania. Each town faced similar obstacles. It was unprecedented chaos.
How could you help this many people? How could you feed them, shelter them, keep the shelters clean, and give people the dignity they deserved after such harrowing journeys? Doing all of it at once just wasn’t possible, yet. 
Over the course of weeks, incredible volunteers worked tirelessly building tent cities, converting schools and warehouses into safe spaces and welcome centers. 
Strangers speaking different languages communicated through kindness, doing whatever they could to ease the burden on those who had fled war-torn Ukraine. 
International organizations helped facilitate a smoother arrival process for asylum seekers. The lines of communication gave caution to the growing dangers of human trafficking. 
After a month, my new crew and I traveled into Ukraine to report on the realities across the border. Air raid sirens had quickly become a normalized sound across the country.
Over the last year, covering the war has brought us to underground operating rooms, blown-up neighborhoods, and entire villages reduced to rubble. 
My mind drifts to those still living within the wreckage. It’s the conversations spent with tearful residents clinging to the memories their burned walls once held, only a year ago. Those who worked hard for their life and home, before watching it all go up in flames. 
On a personal level, there’s an immense amount of self-imposed pressure to absorb every detail. I truly believe empathy is at the heart of impactful storytelling. Learning how to lessen the emotional impact on yourself, as a journalist, is an entirely different challenge.  
Each time you come home, the baggage feels slightly different. Subconsciously, it can take me weeks to reacclimate the normalcy of life whether it’s due to unexpected stressors or reoccurring dreams. 
In the months on the road, you live, work, and share every experience with your co-workers. When it comes to coping, some colleagues like to talk about it. Others prefer to move past it. 
In a conflict zone, you’re taught to sleep with a go-bag of essentials next to your bed. Should the hotel get hit, you grab your bag, body armor, and run. It means you’re prepared, even when unconscious. It also means there’s no “turning off”, even for a night. 
For Ukrainians, there’s no “turning it off” at all. 
In Kyiv, much of city business has returned. Cafes, restaurants, and street markets are open. It’s easy to assume the capital has bounced back. Under the surface, it’s rare to find someone completely untouched by the violence of the last twelve months. 
The one-year mark was a grim milestone for Ukraine. The stories of loss are just as constant and painful, although international shock has started to fade.  
For journalists, the mission has not changed. 
We continue going back to cover these milestones, military movements, and diplomatic decisions. 
We will share the accounts of those who cannot leave, the careers cut short, the families torn apart, and the catastrophic losses of life on both sides of the war.
We have a responsibility to document these moments and face them. I can only urge those reading around the world to not look away.


Alex Hogan