'The Depths of War': The Helsinki Commission
Both James Vasquez and Col. Rip Rawlings tell Both Vasquez and Rawlings tell News 12 their common goal of helping those on the ground was ignited after seeing the dismay and horror while being in towns outside of Kyiv, like Bucha and Irpin.
"If it was 1939 and Germany was doing what it was doing at the head of World War II, what would you do? We're there right now. This is it," says Rawlings. "We have a megalomaniac ruler who is killing them wholesale, raping them, slaughtering them and stealing everything in their country," he adds.
The duo is now bringing their fight to the doorstep of Congress.
"We have James Vasquez, who is a former U.S. Army vet. He has actually fought in Ukraine already, fought alongside Ukrainians," says Paul Massaro, a senior policy advisor, who introduced them at the congressional Helsinki Commission. "We have Lt. Col. Rip Rawlings, former U.S. Marine Corp, who has been heading up logistical support," he said.
Vasquez and Rawlings discussed their experience inside Ukraine and how the United States government can better support them. They're pushing to update laws that they say right now restricts the movement of certain military technology.
"The biggest issue we have is that a U.S. citizen can go purchase a set of level 3 body armor but cannot purchase it and give it to a Ukrainian," explains Rawlings. "When James goes down range, he's technically allowed to carry level 3 body armor helmet, but he's not allowed to carry ITAR regulated thermal sight systems with him. The difference between us and the Russians is that thermal system in a lot of instances."
But despite the obstacles, Vasquez says his fight is far from over.
"Once I got there [Ukraine], I didn't realize how much this was going to really impact my life and how impactful it's been to me... which is why I'm going back."
WATCH THE NEXT EPISODE: 'The Depths of War': The Return