Bay Area Community Embraces AUA’s New Initiative to Support Veteran Students
“Honoring Those Who Served: Investing in Our Veterans’ Education”
SAN FRANCISCO, U.S. – On April 23, 2019, members of the Bay Area Armenian community gathered at the home of Dr. Shahe and Ani Yeni-Komshian, long-standing supporters of the American University of Armenia (AUA), to learn about the “Honoring Those Who Served: Investing in Our Veterans’ Education” campaign. Launched in April 2019, the campaign aims to raise $1.5 million in endowed scholarships to support veterans of the Armenian Armed Forces who continue their education at the University after completing their two-year mandatory military service.
Each year, AUA energetically welcomes close to 40 veterans on campus. To help these young men transition into civilian and academic life, the University provides a variety of support services and professional guidance. Hence, in addition to building the scholarship endowment fund to support their education, AUA aims to fill the critical need by establishing a Veterans Affairs Office on campus, which would provide veteran students with a wide range of social and psychological services. AUA will be the first university among Armenia’s higher education institutions to provide this kind of formalized support network to veterans.
The hosts of the event welcomed the guests and emphasized the significance and magnitude of the new AUA initiative. “We are honored to host this event as its purpose speaks to our heart,” said Mrs. Yeni-Komshian. “Armenia’s veterans risk their lives to guarantee the safety and security and, in doing so, the future of Armenia. The least we can do is support the veterans who have served selflessly to help guarantee their future.”
“During the April 2016 Four-Day War that brought conflict back to the Nagorno-Karabakh region, a number of the young men protecting Armenian lands were students of AUA, who were serving their time in the military,” said Gaiane Khachatrian, AUA Director of Development. “While they survived, their traumatic experiences stayed with them after they served their country. As a gesture of gratitude, AUA is committed to providing full scholarships to all its veterans in recognition of their sacrifices. The University serves as a second home where veterans can find appreciation, peace, love, and support.”
Arman Vardanyan (BA EC ‘20), the recipient of the AGBU Asbeds Scholarship (2017-2018) and the Mario Mazzola & Luciana Cavallet Endowed Scholarship (2018-2019), was among those brave soldiers serving in the army when the Four-Day War erupted in April of 2016. He was present at this official launch of the campaign and moved the audience with his emotional speech:
There was a call of duty and I had to pause my educational journey at AUA to serve in the army for two years. My time in the Armenian military gave me the strongest respect for everyone who wears the uniform. I am proud to be a part of the generation of soldiers who participated in the April Four-Day War of 2016 in Artsakh, and I bow down to all the heroes who sacrificed their lives to protect Armenia and shed their own blood to secure our borders.
Recalling the events that unfolded during the April Four-Day War brings out the emotions, stories, and the voices that should be heard. I can testify that participating in this War was an honor, huge responsibility, and an expression of my dedication to my country. This is where I had to turn my love, skills, courage, determination, and resilience into action. Serving my country has made me a better person — a better person in my family, community and country. It has increased my confidence, self-discipline, teamwork, loyalty, and the ability to realize my full potential.
AUA gave me and all its veterans the most heartwarming and caring welcome back. It is beyond description what it really meant for us to feel appreciated and taken care of after returning from service. AUA has always held and expressed love, care, and attention to all students from many different backgrounds.
Serving for two years in the military does not end my responsibility for my homeland and vision for Armenia. My goals and aspirations of becoming a diplomat have helped me to seek out opportunities where I can gain the knowledge and skills needed to make a significant impact in Armenia.
I dream of an Armenian military where soldiers are given undivided attention and can get 100% support from their officers and have all the components necessary for a successful and safe military service. I dream of the Armenia where we take pride in our president, our politicians, our police, and our country. I dream of the Armenia where people earn their living and respect their positions. I dream of the Armenia where wealth has value but is not above ethical values, honor or personal integrity.
A new type of conversation has begun in Armenia, a positive and optimistic conversation that places family unit, education, integrity, responsibility, and dedication first. Today’s Armenia is on the path of unfolding its indubitable impact and worth to the world.
There are many young men like Vardanyan in Armenia who have served or are serving in the Armed Forces with dignity, honor, and bravery – risking their lives to keep the homeland secure. Although Vardanyan survived the war, a number of his friends lost their lives during the struggle.
All Armenians – both in the homeland and the Diaspora – should unite to continue supporting Armenia by helping to build a better future for veterans upon their return. Their service to their country is appreciated by AUA students, faculty, and staff, who understand the significance of the contribution they have made and stand in full support. We celebrate the safe return of our veteran students and invite you to join hands with us in building a better future for them in a New Armenia.
To learn more about the AUA “Honoring Those Who Served: Investing in our Veterans’ Education” campaign, please visit veterans.aua.am. You have the power to build Armenia’s promising future through your participation in this campaign!
Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia, and affiliated with the University of California. AUA provides a global education in Armenia and the region, offering high-quality graduate and undergraduate studies, encouraging civic engagement, and promoting public service and democratic values. For more information about the American University of Armenia and its donor opportunities, please visit www.aua.am.