20 year-old Norayr Kamalyan, a former Artsakh Army soldier has metal screws holding his lower jaw bone together.
His jaw was smashed during a July 31, 2014 firefight with an Azerbaijani reconnaissance unit probing the line of contact separating Artsakh and Azerbaijan.
Another bullet pierced his chest, just missing his hear.
His face shows others scars of the battle.
Visiting the young solider, I thought how different he looked when I first saw him in the hospital hooked up to tubes and a breathing apparatus.
Norayr, from the village of Gishi in Artsakh’s Martouni District, has to travel to Yerevan for medical treatment.
While the Artsakh Defense Army is paying for the treatment at Yerevan’s Mouratsan Military Hospital, the family has to pay out of pocket for all travel expenses.
Norayr is awaiting an operation to have a portion of a rib substituted for the jaw bone smashed when hit by an Azerbaijani bullet.
“The jaw operation is still six months away. In the meantime, he has to get checkups every two months. The first time, they let us stay in the hospital. I don’t know about this time. If we can’t, we’ll have to rent an apartment in Yerevan. When the time comes, I hope we will not have to pay for the operation,” says Norayr’s father Mikayel, who has nothing but praise for the hospital staff.
Norayr tells me that he wants to look for work but that his parents are against it since the doctors have advised them to keep his jaw warm.
“I sit around the house, but I want to work to help defray some of the treatment expenses. My doctors say it will take more than one operation,” says Norayr.
The young man adds that he will soon be registered as a person with a disability and thus entitled to some type of state assistance.
“A man in civilian life works and just makes a living and raises a family. But when he serves inn the army, that job has a double significance. He both defends the homeland and feeds his family,” says Norayr.
P.S. Norayr’s mother Ariana told me that while her son was in the hospital a nurse found out that Norayr was baptized. A local deacon suggested that he baptize Norayr and that Shahe Ajemyan, deputy commander of the Crusaders detachment stood in as godfather.