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Forgotten by government veterans

06.05.2017

 
Lana Giorgidze

Every year, fewer and fewer veterans of the World War II meet the Victory Day. The society receives information about them only on May 9, when the veterans traditionally gather in the Victory Park in Tbilisi and expect the care, attention and support which they lack in the rest of the year. 

On May 4, nongovernmental organization Central Union of the War, Labor and Military Veterans of Georgia organized a meeting to discuss the findings of the social survey Conditions of the Veterans of the World War II in Tbilisi. Board Chairman of the organization Tengiz Shubladze said tens of veterans died during the survey and their number is rapidly reducing considering their age and health conditions. 
Nowadays, up to 300 veterans of the WW II live in Tbilisi:

Vake district – 44
Saburtalo district – 50
Mtsatsminda district – 21
Krtsanisi district – 9
Isani distrit – 43
Samgori district – 25
Gldani – 23
Nadzaladevi – 26
Didube – 27
Chughureti – 30

Majority of the interviewed veterans of the WW II are men. 25% of the Tbilisi residing veterans are lonely people and they are left without care. Their majority has chronic diseases and need permanent caretaker and special medical treatment; 16 veterans feel themselves healthy. When they announced about it during the meeting, the audience applauded and reacted: “God will bless you. You may think you feel healthy but in current situation nobody can be well.”
The state medical insurance was one of the topics discussed during the meeting. Although since July 15, 2013 the veterans enjoy the special medical insurance package they cannot get all medicines for free and their majority is dissatisfied with the medical service. 

When asked in the frame of the social poll how the state respects them, 80% of the veterans said the state does not respect their deeds. 
Representative of the Central Union of the War, Labor and Military Veterans of Georgia Tite Lepsaia spoke about the lack of attention to the veterans from the side of the state and added that the state shall take care of the veterans and assist them to prolong their lives. 

“The authority recalls about the veterans only on May 9. 2 years ago, the state assisted the veterans with 1000 GEL but this year they plan to pay only 600 GEL allowance to them. It is very little. Years ago, the Government, the Parliament and the President were meeting the veterans separately and expressed their respect to them. This year we sent messages to all of them but only the Government’s administration reacted. They said, the government will fund a party for up to 150 persons but majority of the veterans cannot go there at all,” Tite Lepsaia said. 

Tite Lepsaia added he searched the information how the state assists the veterans in Germany, Russia and in other countries and in accordance to the collected information, he said every country, except Georgia, ensures worthy life for the veterans. 

The Human Rights House Tbilisi spoke about the hard living conditions of the war veterans in its 2016 annual report Human Rights to the Regions. In accordance to the report, one of the main reasons of the veterans’ hard life is the legislative gaps. In accordance to the national law, the Ministry of Defense is no longer responsible to take care of the social-economic state of the veterans. Nowadays, the State Department of Veterans is obliged to take care of the veterans though it does not have enough resources to implement its obligations. 

When speaking about financial resources, the veterans over 90 say that if the state had kind will to assist them, they would not have spent hundreds GEL on their bonuses and would have assisted the people who need help. The legislative amendments were also discussed during the meeting but everybody felt hopeless about it because the process will last for months and years and when it is over, nobody will need it because old, sick veterans will not live long years. 

While the veterans complain about inattention from the state, the Law of Georgia on War and Military Veterans promise care of the WW II veterans after death.
Article 18. additional measures for social welfare of the veterans, who have particular merit in the prosperity of the state The veterans, who had particular role in the prosperity of the state and received the honorable status of the Hero of the Soviet Union or the name of the National Hero for the Liberation of Italy and Yugoslavia, or are awarded with all three medals of the Soviet Union, or with Davit Agmashenebeli or Vakhtang Gorgasali Awards of Georgia, will receive the benefits under this provision: 
After the death, their name will be given to a street, school or a square as it is regulated under the law and the state will set up a statue in accordance to the law regulations;
The family (parents, spouse, children) will receive financial allowance in the amount of 20 minimal monthly pension of the veteran. 
Article 21. Ritual service The deceased veterans of the WW II or participants of military operations in other countries, for the territorial integrity, freedom and independence of Georgia, military veterans are buried in the place selected by their family members (with the ritual adequate to respectful military servant).

3.Unemployed veterans are buried and their cemeteries are arranged with the financial support of the state body, which paid the pension to him/her. If the family or other citizens take responsibility to bury the veteran, they receive financial assistance for the funeral in accordance to the acting national legislation. 

Veterans have got used to their routine and continue living in poor social conditions hoping they will be more respected after the death. While they are alive, the participants of the WW II, including their family members, received only flowers and a book by Gia Khoperia “Aimano” which may be read only by the author and the veterans. It happened years ago; now they expect 600 GEL allowance. On May 9, they will again gather in the Victory Park and congratulate the victory to each other in tears. After that, they will continue their ordinary life. The May 9 will be celebrated until the last veteran is alive in the country; then the organizers will think how to celebrate the victory day without veterans. 


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