18 ~ 20 July 1999
Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia
The first International Conference of Veterans and Victims of War was held in Tbilisi in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia. This conference was organized conjointly by the Georgia Alliance of Invalids and Veterans of War called Demetre Tavdadebuli and Father Philip G. Salois, M.S., President and Founder of the National Conference of Viet Nam Veteran Ministers of Massachusetts. There were 142 conference participants registered.
The majority of the participants were Georgian veterans and victims of war such as Mothers, wives and widows. Many of these veterans were disabled veterans either in wheelchairs or amputees. There was also a good representation of medical and mental health community as well as members of the Tbilisi State University community. There were government officials and members of the Georgian Parliament in attendance as well as the Department of Veteran Services.
Also in attendance was a delegation of three war veterans from Azerbaijan’s Karabakh Society. Chechnya sent a delegation of three war veterans from the Salaam Society despite a resurgence of war in their country the day before the conference convened closing all their border crossings.
The conference presenters from the International community came from eight countries: the United States; South Africa; Nigeria; Israel; Uzbekistan; Portugal; Sweden, and; The Netherlands. Of the presenters three were Psychiatrists working directly with war veterans in their countries suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – the rest of the presenters were war veterans who fought in a variety of wars: colonial war of Angola; the Vietnam War; the war in Afghanistan; the civil war in Nigeria.
The Georgian presenters came from various disciplines: the medical and mental health community; political scientists; university professors; Chairman of the Georgian Parliament; the Chairman of Demetre Tavdadebuli, himself a disabled veteran of the Abkhazian war and retired Army Major and his wife, Chairwoman of the Union of Wives of Invalids and Lost-Warriors.
The Subject Matter
This conference was convened to present reports on a variety of topics dealing with Veteran issues. Some of the issues covered in the conference dealt with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder; Health Care for Veterans particularly in the area of Prosthetics; Disability Compensation and Pensions for Disabled Veterans; Veteran Legislation for protection of Veterans rights, and; Social concerns such as Education, Housing and Employment.
Another major component of the Conference were several presentations dealing with the history of the Georgian people and the area of the Caucasus mountains and historical overview of the various conflicts Georgia, Azerbaijan and Chechnya have had to endure since the break-up of the former Soviet Union.
Notes -- Attendees included: