The RA Minister of Defense Vigen Sarkissian reported to the President of Armenia on the commencement of a new program initiated and tasked by President Sargsyan, on the steep increase in payments of state insurance (a onetime as well as monthly payments) for the families of the servicemen killed or handicapped in military actions or in the course of military duty. The program was developed and brought to its conclusion through the joint activities of the RA Central Bank and Ministry of Social Affairs.
In the framework of the working meetings which took place at President’s each week, the Minister of Defense reported on the details of the mentioned above program as well as on the problems of the military educational institutions, and avenues to address and modernize them which is done in accordance with another task of the President.
Vigen Sarkissian noted that as a result of the works it became possible to find a formula according to which since January 28, 2017 – on the 25th anniversary of our Army, a start will be given to new, much increased payments. The families of the killed and first degree handicapped individuals will receive a onetime compensation of 10 million AMD. The families of the second degree handicapped servicemen will receive a onetime compensation of 5 million AMD. Monthly compensations in case of death of the serviceman or the first degree handicap will make 300,000 AMD for the officers, 250,000 AMD for the junior officers and 200,000 for the privates. In case of becoming the second degree handicap, the compensations will respectively make 250,000, 200,000, and 150,000 AMD. That amount, in the form of insurance benefit, will be paid out for 20 years, which will make 82 million AMD for the officers, 70 million AMD for the junior officer staff, and 48 million AMD for the privates.
In case of an efficient functioning of the fund and availability of the financial resources, the Board of the Fund will be able twenty years later to make a decision on the continuity of these payments for the handicap persons. Otherwise, twenty years later these servicemen will start to receive social insurance benefits in the amount set by the state at that time. The program will be financed through a special fund to which every working person will monthly contribute one thousand AMD. The Fund will also receive voluntary donations from the individuals. The money will be spent exclusively for the insurance payments. The program will have its own Board comprising individuals of high reputation who enjoy the trust of the society which will oversight the entire process which in turn will be totally open and public.
President Sargsyan stressed the importance of the conducted works and issued new tasks related to the implementation phase of the program.
“This is a very important program. We started these works two years ago always certain that taking care of the problems of the families of the killed and handicapped servicemen is our direct responsibility and the better we fulfill the task, the more we can do to somehow relieve their already difficult lives; we are obliged to do it. I believe the time has come, yes, the time is now and we are able through the assistance of our citizens to sharply improve the situation. We have always tried our best on this. At least, the fact that we have been able to settle in general the housing problem for the families of the killed, first degree handicaps and a great number of the second degree handicaps, that very fact, is so to say, the result of the state’s willingness and readiness, and the format – through the state-private cooperation – is a very right one. It means that when we say “nation-army” even before that motto we say that our army is a national army, our army is the guarantor of our security, so it must be manifested not only through the words of high moral but undoubtedly through the participation too. With this regard, I believe the adoption of a corresponding law is extremely important, however simultaneously it is necessary to work with the Ministry of Finance, the Government. Let’s see if we are able to also improve the situation of the families of the earlier killed soldiers and officers. Do we have these resources? Not in the amount which will be provided from now on, but to increase it somewhat. We need to calculate, look into the current system, can worsen someone’s situation? I don’t believe there will be many cases like that and the fund in its charter and probably the law too, should consider that problem as well. There shouldn’t be aggravation of the situation. It is very important that at this stage we have reached that milestone,” said the President.
Recalling how during the April events different public structures and individuals were trying to somehow help the individuals who suffered in the course of the events, or became handicapped and also to the families which lost sons, President Sargsyan noted that it is necessary to unite the capabilities, to offer all these people to make voluntary payments to the fund, and the process will be absolutely transparent. According to the President, the mentioned above fund should not have a large staff and will respectively have little operational expenses.
Minister Vigen Sarkissian reported that the program is designed according to the “nation-army” paradigm, which means the entire society takes upon itself the burden of the social protection of the Fatherland defenders, while the army helps the servicemen who appeared in such situation or in case of their death – to their families.
The Minister assured that everything will be done not to decrease the amount of allowances paid to the families, and those who receive minimal wages will be exempted from the one thousand AMD payment. Vigen Sarkissian underlined that the logic of the program tells that the fund should be able to attract additional funding and in time to increase the amount of compensation, expanding the circle of the beneficiaries, becoming a starting point for a more long-term program.
The Minister of Defense reported also on the works aimed at the addressing the problems existing in the military educational institutions and noted that he keeps them in the focus of his attention daily. The Minister also informed that days ago he had visited the Vazgen Sarkissian Military University, and this week he was planning to visit Marshal Armenak Khanferiants Military Aviation Institute. He presented his views regard the perspectives of these institutions: according to the Minister, military education should also ensure the link between the military and civilians. The Command and Staff Department unit of the Vazgen Sarkissian Military University according to Minister Sarkissian today possesses every opportunity to offer in the framework of the credit system high-quality teaching classes for the magistrate’s students from the civic high education institutions.
The President of Armenia underlined that it is necessary to continuously raise the attractiveness of the military education and of the officer career and no effort should be spared to educate knowledgeable and professional officers. According to Serzh Sargsyan, education of the officers should include all modern skills and knowledge, advanced experience of similar institutions which will make possible a full command by the military of the equipment and electronic systems of command which are modernized day by day.
“All over the world it is said that the motto of the commander should be the following, “Do it like me,” right? If the officer physically is not as sturdy as the average soldier, such an officer has no reputation. Let’s say a battalion is doing physical exercises, running and overcoming hurdles but the officer is not running in front, is it right? Such officer cannot have authority. With this regard, I believe that we should probably have a smaller number of lieutenants by five, ten, or twenty rather than have many but professionally unapt commanders. It is very important. Trust towards the commander starts from things like this. So, we need to move on these two directions and advance,” tasked the President of Armenia the Minister of Defense.
The President noted that good foundation has already been created: today military institutions of Armenia offer free education and guarantees for work with compatible salaries. For instance, unlike the young people who receive education in the civil institutions, who still have to find their place in the professional life, have to pay out credits, military institutions offer dangerous and difficult but nevertheless guaranteed service where the very first salary is 20 percent higher than the average salary in the Republic, while the path towards professional advancement is much more clear.
According to Vigen Sarkissian, during the military service, military staff receives additional education. After discharge, the officers receive military pension for the years-long service and are still young enough to find new opportunities in the civil life. The Minister of Defense reported that currently programs are developed for the professional orientation of the discharged officers and proper presentation of their advantages at the labor market.