GLENDALE—The Armenian Youth Federation is continuing its efforts to bring medical assistance to the veterans of the Artsakh Liberation Struggle. Since launching the “With Our Soldiers” campaign last year, the AYF has provided medical assistance to over 40 freedom fighters in the Homeland and is aiming to aid an even larger amount of heroes in the months ahead.
From its inception, the campaign has developed a series of procedures in order to effectively verify the identity of the assistance-seeking veterans, as well as to ensure each patient receives proper care. Consequently, all patients have been required to submit their official military documentation, proving their service during the Artsakh Liberation struggle, and their complete medical history to the hospital. These documents are first reviewed by the “With Our Soldiers” task force in the United States, and later by the hospital’s doctors in Armenia. Upon approval, initial checkups and physicals are conducted to help ensure the accurate diagnosis of patients. Thereafter, the task force reviews the recommendations from the Yerevan Medical Center, meticulously approves each patient’s prescribed treatment and distributes funds to the hospital appropriately.
“The doctors at the Yerevan Medical Center have been instrumental in providing assistance to the veterans on the ground,” said WOS task force member, Caspar Jivalagian. “Without the help of Dr. Taron Tonoyan and Dr. Hakob Balayan, this campaign would not have been possible. We express great gratitude to them and our operations Coordinator in Armenia, Unger Kevork Parseghian, for their invaluable support and dedication to our nation’s veterans.”
In the spirit of accountability, the AYF has shared with the community numerous video updates to further illustrate the stories and treatments of individual veterans being assisted by the ‘With Our Soldiers’ campaign. These moving reports, prepared by Yerkir Media, about the post-war conditions and treatments of our freedom fighters have truly inspired Armenians in the diaspora and Armenia alike. Most importantly, they have been successful at their aim of revealing the stories of our country’s heroes, who, at times, have been neglected by government and abandoned by society.
The medical treatments provided by the campaign have varied in complexity, cost, and urgency. Yet, all of them have played a vital role in helping reconstruct the lives of our freedom fighters. Earlier this year, Rafik Vardanyan, a veteran who participated in the Battle of Shushi, received a life-saving brain surgery, which he would have otherwise not been able to afford with the small pension he received from the government. In addition, the funding from the With Our Soldiers Campaign allowed Hrachik Melkonyan and Garnik Madinyan, two azadamardiks struggling to find employment, to receive eye surgeries that helped restore their longtime damaged visions.
“What we are doing for our veterans through this campaign is not merely assistance or an act of charity,’ said David Arakelyan, Chairperson of the WOS task force. “We are simply repaying our debts to these heroes for the sacrifices they made in order to give us a free and independent Artsakh.”
Medical support is not limited to freedom fighters alone; in some cases, the campaign has helped the family members of veterans as well. Alvina Azaryan, the wife of freedom fighter Edik Azarian, from the Kotayk province, had a serious heart condition requiring a surgery the Veteran’s family could not afford. The With Our Soldiers Campaign funded surgery and after a difficult, but successful procedure, the life of Edik’s 55-year old wife was no longer in danger.
Since its launch in 2012, the ‘With Our Soldiers’ campaign has received strong support from members of the Armenian community. To date, over $60,000 has been raised through individual donations and the efforts of the AYF Western Region Chapters. The Armenian Youth Federation is extremely grateful to all of its friends and supporters for their commitment to the wellbeing of our veterans and for their continued trust in AYF and its “With Our Soldiers” campaign.
As the work to provide essential medical assistance to our veterans continues, the “With Our Soldiers” task force will release periodic reports about the progress of the campaign and share the new stories of veterans who receive the campaign’s help. Community members are encouraged to visit the www.withoursoldiers.com website, as well as follow the AYF and WOS Facebook pages for periodic updates. All questions regarding the campaign can be directed to the AYF Western Region Office.
Founded in 1933, the Armenian Youth Federation is the largest and most influential Armenian-American youth organization in the United States working to advance the social, political, educational, and cultural awareness of Armenian-American youth.