(Update: Adding video, comments from Robert, Megan Flanagan)
‘I need to go help, not fight. I need to come from a place of love and light, not violence’
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) — “He is one of the most dynamic, incredible men I’ve ever known,” Redmond resident Megan Flanagan told NewsChannel21 while describing her husband, Robert, on Wednesday.
Robert Flanagan, a former Army officer for 13 years, hair stylist at Roots Salon in Bend, and play director who recently directed Murder on the Orient Express, performed at the Cascades Theatrical Company recently followed a call to action, in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — and is now in eastern Poland, carrying out supply trips to refugee areas.
His efforts Wednesday involved running diapers and water purification kits to the refugee center.
Megan said she was very thrown off-guard by his decision, at first.
“I was actually in my office at work and he called me a few days after the war erupted, and it was after President Zelensky made the comment of how he wanted to be evacuated and he said, ‘I don’t need a ride, I need ammo,’” she recalled. “Rob called me and I was in my office, and he said, ‘What would you think if I went over there?’ I shut the door in my office. I had panic wash all over me and said, ‘Are you joking? Are you kidding? Your life is here — our life is here.’”
However, after realizing that he felt called to make such a drastic move, Megan had a change of heart, understanding that it was something he felt he had to do.
But that doesn’t make things any easier.
“I’m worried for his life,” she said. “You know, we also have our family and our livelihood to think about, because as long as he’s gone, we’re operating on one income, and it could be a little threatening and scary.”
But she and their 16- and 18-year-old children stand firm in their support of Rob’s mission.
In an email correspondence with NewsChannel21, Robert wrote, “When asked about evacuating Ukraine, President Zelensky said ‘The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride.’ He asked for help from combat veterans from foreign countries. I applied and was accepted into the International Legion for the Territorial Defense of Ukraine.”
When he first heard about the invasion, Flanagan said he wanted to pack a weapon bag and parachute into the city of Kyiv. “I was an airborne paratrooper,” he said.
His said his vision was clouded with red, out of rage, and he was prepared to fight. But something happened, and likely for the better.
“Some really cool people talked me down from that. They said, ‘If you go over there with violence, you won’t come back.”
The thing is, Rob very much wants to come back home to his family, so he decided to make his impact in a different way — from a place of love and healing.
President Zelensky’s announcement was the first reason that inspired Rob to take action. Here’s the second:
“This old Ukrainian woman walking up to this six-foot-tall Russian soldier and handing him a handful of sunflower seeds, saying, ‘I want you to put this in your pocket, so when you die on our soil, in our country, flowers will grow from your body.'”
In doing what he thought was right, Rob told his wife, “I need to go help, not fight. I need to come from a place of love and light, not violence.”
In the middle of the interview, Megan’s tears showed the weight of such a difficult and yet endearing situation.
“It’s a very interesting dichotomy in my emotions,” she said. “It’s an interesting mix of immense pride and fear.”
Rob concluded the interview segment with NewsChannel21 by saying, “You got to do what you got to do. … I wish I was home every second of every day, but there’s some work to be done here and I’m the guy who’s going to do it.
A family friend has created a fundraising page to support the Flanagan family while Robert is overseas, at https://givesendgo.com/G32Q
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