Sona Baghdasaryan of The Insurance Foundation for Servicemen

By Florence Avakian

YEREVAN —They gave their ultimate sacrifice for our homeland, and for their devoted service, a grateful nation is showing them its appreciation.

“The Insurance Foundation for Servicemen was established in 2017 as a life insurance method which provides monetary compensation to Armenia’s heroes with a disability while they were protecting the borders of our homeland, and also to the families of soldiers who are missing or deceased in combat,” said Sona Baghdasaryan in an interview from Yerevan.

Sona, who is the program’s development director, related that the organization was established in 2017 following the four-day war in 2016 where more than 100 Armenian servicemen were killed. “It started as a one-man operation and grew to a group of ten to fifteen committed volunteers who visited families with mental and emotional needs.

“The families needed recognition, and had financial problems,” she noted. “At that time some of the donated funds came from the diaspora. It grew to a dedicated group of 510 volunteers in the last four years, and evolved into a professional institution from January to February 2021

Mandatory Employee Contribution

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In 2016, a special law was passed by Armenia’s Parliament to establish a fund whereby Armenia’s and Artsakh’s taxpayers would contribute monetary compensation to the war heroes — a Mandatory Employee Contribution. Some donations also came from abroad, but most of the funds were from Armenia, she stated.

“It is the people of the Armenian nation that pays for the insurance, not the state,” she said, emphasizing the point that the government is not involved in the contributions.

Today there are 3,710 active cases where the funds will pay the heroes and families for 20 years. There are two degrees of disability. The first provides $400 to $600 for 20 years, and the second pays $200 to $400 again for 20 years. The missing or severely injured soldiers are likely to receive the first or second disability. Every ten cases will get $1.5 million in lifetime compensation. Since the establishment of the Foundation, employees based in Armenia have contributed $62 million, each worker giving $3 to $30 monthly via their employer.

“It is a life insurance scheme, providing for families so those with children can grow up in Armenia and hopefully stay in the homeland,” said Sona.

Today there are twelve paid professionals in the foundation who are experts “with stellar reputations” in finance, banking, crisis management, fundraising, asset management, marketing and law. There are also members of a Board of Trustees who are not paid. The majority of the Trustees come from the diaspora – U.S., Europe and Russia. Their average age is below 35 years.

There are seven members on the Board of Trustees, appointed for five years, she related. “There is no intervention from state authorities in their selection or decision-making procedure. They approve the budget, including the annual budget, and define the procedure for paying the compensation. They also appoint the executive committee and the director of the Foundation.

The members also approve the activities and liquidation procedures, forms, other foundation bodies and the extent of their power. They select the external auditor, and approve the publishing procedure of the quarterly reports of the Foundation.

Already 3450 servicemen family cases have been compensated, between 2017 and 2021, with 3036 cases of those due to the recent September 27 war. The total compensation paid to date totals more than $72,000.000.

Sona again emphasized that the Armenian state is not giving any funds. “The foundation’s funds come from the paychecks of those who earn a salary. The role of the Armenian state is to collect and distribute the funds.

A National Success Story

Why is the Insurance Foundation succeeding? “The motive for this project is not another charity organization. The foundation has been created to pay our tribute to our heroes,” she said, stressing each word. “We don’t rely on the state. We do it on a sustainable basis If we don’t support the families of our heroes, they will never recover from the cycle of poverty. Our duty is to our nation. This is very real. We are preparing for our future,” she declared with emotion.

“Realizing the price paid by our soldiers for the peace and security of Armenia and Artsakh, we compensate for every soldier fallen in combat, missing in combat, severely injured due to combat,” she stated, again stressing the mantra of the project.

Sona Baghdasaryan emphasized that “we operate on the principle of complete transparency. In the enactment of this principle, our website provides the possibility to see both a contributor’s donations and the mandatory employee contribution. At any given time, it is possible to view the total funds of the Foundation as well as the total amount of compensations.”

The principle of transparency is central to the program, Sona again reiterated. “The collected funds can always be seen. Each cent donated is directed exclusively to the mission of paying compensation to the fallen and disabled soldiers and their family while they protected the homeland’s borders.”

She continued, saying that “every step of the way, the list of beneficiaries who have received compensation, can go to the annual reports. An annual audit is done by a highly reputable audit company.”

“It is our duty to stand by the families of the fallen and missing soldiers, as well as the disabled. It ensures the life and health of serving the Armenian Army today, Sona Baghdasaryan stated, displaying her great passion and dedication.

Personal and National Commitment

For Sona Baghdasaryan, this project ranges from both personal and patriotic concerns. Her 25-year-old brother, who is a lawyer, fought on the front lines in the last war. As a student in the Armenian Military Academy, he was accepted in the artillery division, and will serve for three years, she revealed.

Born and raised in Yerevan, Baghdasaryan is the mother of three children; her eldest son, who is eight years old, will be a soldier in ten years. “I am terrified,” she declared.

Her maternal grandfather, born in 1915, was from Sis and Kilis. He fled in an oxcart, and her mother’s family repatriated from Lebanon and Aleppo in 1947 to Armenia. Her father’s family is from north Artsakh.

Baghdasaryan attended an English public school in Yerevan, then attended the French University in Armenia where she studied law for six years earning an M.A. degree in international business law. There she met her husband, also a lawyer. A specialist in finance and banking, she began her career at Armenia’s Central Bank, then received a grant from Boston University in 2011, continuing her studies in international law with her husband. Returning to Armenia, she continued at the Central Bank until she joined the foundation.

“The Insurance Foundation for the heroes is a full time job for me. As an Armenian, it’s my duty to make sure how we will live if we don’t take care of these heroes. My education and skills need to be put into this project.”

She recalled that a volunteer hero had called her and said, “If I die, can you take care of my family and my children.” Again, she declared, emphasizing each word, “We need to protect our children, our elders and our families so they will stay in Armenia. Our children must grow up in Armenia.”

Sona Baghdasarian, with her advanced education and skills could easily have left Armenia, and found a lucrative position in the diaspora, but she and her family are devoted to the future of

their homeland. “It is very important to concentrate on our independent state of Armenia. We need to cherish it and make it a flourishing and strong country.”

“This is the joint dream of every Armenian in the world,” she stated, reflecting her devotion and commitment.

For individuals who would like to donate to the Insurance Foundation for Servicemen, the tax deductible number in the United States is 501(c) (3). For bank transfers, the email is And online, the email is


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