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Forward 50 | Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman: Refugee, war hero, patriot

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman may not be particularly telegenic. Of the witnesses called before the House Intelligence Committee in the impeachment inquiry of President Trump’s alleged quid pro quo with Ukraine, Vindman, 44, certainly could not be accused of bringing the pizzazz. That only made his testimony — of perceived abuses about which he could not stay silent — all the more compelling. By stepping forward from behind the scenes, Vindman, an Army officer who was born in Ukraine and serves as director of European affairs for the National Security Council, provided a profile of courage, even as he endured attacks from Republicans and threats to his safety. (Vindman could not be reached to fill our questionnaire.)

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National Security Council Ukraine expert Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman arrives to testify during the House Intelligence Committee hearing, into President Donald Trump’s alleged efforts to tie US aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on November 19, 2019. Image by Getty

First job: A career military professional who earned a purple heart in Iraq, Vindman was once a child model. A family friend, Carol Kitman, photographed him and his identical twin brother, Yevgeny, in matching sailor suits for her book “One Mezuzah: A Jewish Counting Book.”

So, he’s a twin? Yes. And Yevgeny also works at the NSC, as an ethics lawyer. Their offices are next door to each other in the West Wing.

What brought them to America? After Vindman’s mother died in Ukraine, his father relocated the twins and their older brother, Leonid, to Brighton Beach’s Little Odessa. Anti-Semitism in the then-Soviet republic was a major motivating factor.

Quote of the year: “Do not worry,” Vindman assured his refugee father, “I will be fine for telling the truth.”

Read more

A Forward article about his family being placed under security.

Deborah Lipstadt’s Forward OpEd thanking Vindman ‘for reminding us who we are.’

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency article about his testimony.

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