A shipment of medical kits in Armenia

Wounded Heroes Fund Provides Military-Grade Medical Kits to Soldiers in Armenia, Artsakh

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NEW YORK — The unexpected Azeri attack on Artsakh in April 2016 that claimed the lives of about 100 soldiers and many civilians in Artsakh shocked not only those in Armenia and Artsakh, but many around the world.

This surprise attack led to the founding of the Armenian Wounded Heroes Fund (AWHF), which seeks to bring military-grade first aid kits to soldiers serving on strategic regions on the border.

In an interview on Monday, July 24, one of the group’s founders, Razmig Arzoumanian of New Jersey, said that the organization has already sent 7,500 kits, which range in price from $30 to $1,300, helping medics on the scene to perform everything from simple procedures to complicated, hospital-grade operations right on the field, to minimize loss of blood and increase chances of survival.

Soldiers in Karabakh with the medical kits

According to the group’s website, the kits are the same ones used by the US Army in combat zones.

The kits are purchased by the group pre-packaged by a US distributor. Each medic who uses a kit receives a three-month training session in Yerevan in order to optimally help fellow soldiers. The training is followed up by regular refreshers.

The Artsakh Ministry of Defense, he said, is thrilled with the project. They choose soldiers who have a knack for or desire to learn about medical work.

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In each region of Artsakh, AWHF representatives observed a professionally executed deployment of three levels of kits, from squad medics to front-line soldiers.

“The implementation has gone better than we expected,” Arzoumanian said. “We go monitor them, at the front. They have all had proper training.”

“We didn’t want to do something that someone else was already doing,” Arzoumanian said. “We have a single purpose. Whoever donates money, all of it is going to the soldiers, one way or another. We cover all the costs.”

Arzoumanian stressed that the organization does not spend any of the funds raised on the transportation of the kits. All the funds raised go toward helping the soldiers, he said.

He added that when he or other board members travel to Armenia and Artsakh, they pay their own way.

While Arzoumanian estimated that 80 percent of what the organization does is supplying the kits, it is also working toward providing physical and mental therapy and then job training for amputees.

“We do everything from saving lives to treating the guys to bringing them back to productive lives,” he said.

“When you lose a limb, there is an idea there that you are useless. The people [injured] don’t even think they can do anything,” he said. “We want them to be as productive as anyone else.”

One case is that of Avetis Zargaryan, whose spine was severely injured during the April 2016 attack, leaving him paralyzed for eight months. The group raised $30,000 to fund the advanced treatment he needed. In mid-January, AWHF transported Zargaryan to Moscow for intensive, advanced treatment. Within two months, he was able to sit upright, move his arms and legs, and even brush his own teeth. He is now back in Yerevan for rest and basic rehabilitation. As soon as he is ready, AWHF has committed to funding one more treatment session in Moscow.

This week, a large shipment is slated to arrive in Armenia, said Arzoumanian, who serves on the US Board of Directors of the organization. Arzoumanian is a managing director and head of Aerospace and Defense of Lincoln International, a global investment banking firm. He was formerly at Citigroup and at Merrill Lynch/Bank of America. He has also implemented various humanitarian and other investments in Armenia and Artsakh.

The other US Board member is Chris Petrossian, a managing director and head of Lincoln International’s Los Angeles Office and also a member of the firm’s US Operating Committee.

The soldiers as well as the government of Artsakh “love it. They have saved multiple lives,” he said.

The organization is fairly low-key and relies on private fundraising or joining forces with other established organizations to raise money for the kits. Partner organizations include the US Embassy in Yerevan, the Armenian Medical Fund in the US, IDeA Foundation in Armenia, and Hamazkayin, in New York.

Since the organization’s inception in May 2016, AWHF has raised and purchased more than $400,000 in kits for soldiers in Artsakh. In May 2017, AWHF volunteers visited two strategic border regions in Artsakh (“zoramas”) to monitor the deployment of 3,000 US-made Tactical Combat Casualty Care Systems sent in December 2016.

Once deployed, AWHF will have covered approximately 50 percent of the Artsakh border.

Serving on the Board of Advisors in Armenia are Arpine Ghevondyan, Garen Mikirditzian, Armen Yeghyazaryan and Levon Kocharyan.

The Areni Choir will host a musical program on Sunday, September 17, at 6 p.m., at the Queens Theatre in the Park, 14 United Nations Avenue South, in Corona, NY, to raise funds for the group.

To find out more about the organization or to donate, visit https://armenianwoundedheroes.com

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