Over the last several months, the AYF’s With Our Soldiers (WOS) campaign has been heavily engaged in the medical treatment of dozens of veterans of the Artsakh war throughout Armenia.
Having spent much of 2012 raising awareness and collecting donations, the campaign utilized the summer and fall months to deliver medical care to those who need it most.
“Our community has shown that it stands with our freedom fighters,” said David Arakelyan, an organizer with the WOS campaign. “From small donors to big sponsors, everyone’s contribution has made a difference in the lives of our azadamardiks by helping fund surgeries, check-ups and medications.”
Beginning with basic checkups for 14 veterans at the Yerevan Medical Center on July 19, the campaign has gone on to provide medical services ranging from medicine and therapy to surgical procedures for over 20 men and women who put their lives on the line for the defense of Artsakh.
One such freedom fighter is Ivan Mirzoyan, a veteran of the Artsakh war who went to the front lines as a teenager. Mirzoyan was captured as a prisoner of war and brutally tortured by Azeri forces. Despite being fatally beaten and having gasoline injected into his veins, he managed to escape and make it back to Artsakh, where he eventually rejoined the liberation struggle.
Through the WOS campaign, Mirzoyan was provided with vital medications and free therapy consultation to deal with his episodic seizures, fainting spells, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
“I am very thankful to you all because I couldn’t even imagine before that I would have this medication in my hands,” said Mirzoyan. “I’m hopeful that they will help heal me.”
Another veteran, Andranik Ketikyan, who fought valiantly in the “Arabkir” special regiment and who eventually lost hearing in both of his ears, was fitted with brand new Siemens ear devices, restoring his ability to hear once again.
In the case of veteran Armen Begyan, assistance has come in the form of specially retrofitting a car for wheelchair accessibility. Begyan left his native Hrazdan and went to fight in Artsakh from 1992-1994, becoming paralyzed from the waist down due to injuries suffered in the war. The wheelchair vehicle will allow him to reenter society and provide for his family once again. The motivation for the assistance comes from a state program for handicap veterans successfully operated in Artsakh, but which is unavailable in Armenia proper.
Several other veterans have been evaluated and set for treatment in the coming weeks, with services including eye care, heart operations, and prosthetic surgeries. Regular status updates about the treatments will be posted on the “Veterans” page of the WOS campaign website: http://www.withoursoldiers.com. Donors to the campaign will also receive personalized letters documenting the specific veterans their funds assist.
All campaign treatments are provided and coordinated through a partnership with the Yerevan Medical Center and overseen by organizers of the campaign both here and in Armenia.
Each patient begins the process with a preliminary interview and is required to provide valid documentation of their service in the war, official government status, and medical history before undergoing treatment. Across the board, the veterans encountered through the campaign have proven to be neglected by the government or provided with only meager funds that do not come close to meeting their medical needs.
For more information about the WOS campaign and further efforts to aid veterans of the Artsakh war, visit http://www.WithOurSoldiers.com.