Trilateral memo secures free surgeries for Armenia’s wounded soldiers

The trilateral agreement indicates that the Izmirlian Foundation will allocate USD 30,000 to the treatment of persons with military disabilities.

  • June 28, 2019
  • Mediamax
  • 3 photo(s)

 The folder

Accompanied by two young men, director of Support for Wounded Soldiers and Military Disabled Persons NGO Haykuhi Minasyan walked out of the Izmirlian Foundation with a memorandum in her folder. The document had been signed just a few minutes ago, and Haykuhi’s signature sat on it next to those of Lusine Galajyan, the foundation’s Country Director, and Professor Armen Charchyan, Executive Director of the Izmirlian Medical Center.

The trilateral agreement indicates that the Izmirlian Foundation will allocate USD 30,000 to the treatment of persons with military disabilities.

“This is an opportunity to improve the lives of these people without unnecessary bureaucracy and troubles. The memorandum is very important for the soldiers with military disability. Some of them will walk again, others will recover completely,” said Haykuhi Minasyan.

 The state covers part of the treatment expenses for the soldiers who recover at the Izmirlian Medical Center, but in cases when the soldier can’t walk or need an implant, state funding is not sufficient.

 “We have many patients who have restricted abilities or can’t walk just because they cannot afford treatment. You can’t hold a fundraising event every day, and these people need expensive tests and surgeries that the state cannot provide,” Haykuhi explained the importance of the memorandum.

The soldiers

 Haykuhi was accompanied by Andrey Vardanyan and Aram Hakobyan, who met at the Homeland Defender’s Rehabilitation Center.

“April 3, 2016,” said Andrey. It is the day that drew the “before” and “after” line in his life. On that day, during the April War, Andrey suffered a gunshot wound and several fractures.

“I was in a really bad state when I got to the rehabilitation center. I barely managed to walk in, and it took me two years to get rid of the crutches,” told Andrey.

According to him, there were moments of despair during the treatment, but there was hope too. Andrey did not feel it would be right to give advice to soldiers with military disabilities, who decided against going to the rehabilitation center because they lost hope.

“I don’t think I have the right. But I want to tell them they must get proper treatment. The borders and the doors to our houses, it is the same, we have to guard them,” said Andrey.

Aram had a different story to tell. He got wounded months after the April War, in October of 2016. Aram was on the front line in Karabakh and suffered mine blast wounds to both legs.

“I found a second life in the rehabilitation center. Thanks to the doctors working there I started walking again,” he said.

Aram came to the center on the day it opened. He told that wounds of that kind hurt both physically and mentally.

“I had lots of support at the center. So many people there held my hand whenever I felt down and encouraged me. I don’t know what would become of me if I didn’t go to the rehabilitation center,” Aram said.

 The second folder 

 Head of Izmirlian Medical Center Armen Charchyan, who took the folder with the second copy of the memorandum, believes that the document will show Armenian soldiers and society that the doctors are here for them.

“We will do the possible and the impossible to return our soldiers to normal and show people that they can trust us, the doctors, to do it. After all, the April War demonstrated that thanks to the doctors, 72% of the wounded, which makes 20,000-21,000 soldiers, already returned to active duty. We have the rehabilitation center as well, which really does miracles,” said Professor Charchyan.

He told Mediamax that war changed everything for him as a doctor: the worldview, mentality, response sequence, decision-making strategy.

“I can only say that the people who went to war live in a different universe,” noted Charchyan.

 The memorandum

The initiator of the memorandum was Lusine Galajyan, the Country Director at Izmirlian Foundation. They wanted to implement a program for the Homeland Defender’s Rehabilitation Center.

“First we thought over an educational program, but Haykuhi informed us that Luys Foundation had already covered that,” said Lusine Galajyan.

Next, they considered improving the living conditions of the soldiers, and finally decided to help them with healthcare. Armen Charchyan confirmed that it would be the best option, and they took the format of "Healthcare support to vulnerable Syrian-Armenians Residing in Armenia" project, which already proved to be effective.

“The foundation has done major investments in the medical center, so it is a strong asset. We noticed that the center had many soldier patients in need of expensive implants, difficult surgeries on hips, knees, joints and blood vessels. We concluded that a trilateral memorandum could solve the problem,” he explained.

Under the signed agreement, Haykuhi Minasyan’s NGO will secure state funding for the patients, the Izmirlian Medical Center will pay for the surgery and the Izmirlian Foundation will cover the cost of implants and medicine.