World War II Veterans Council, Veterans of Foreign Wars Discuss Ways to Honour Veterans

ASTANA – Representatives of the Council of World War II Veterans, Home Guard and Kids of the War and the U.S.-based Veterans of Foreign Wars recently met virtually to discuss international best practices in honouring and preserving the memories of veterans worldwide. The council and English Access Microscholarship Programme organised student volunteers to document the veterans’ memories and experiences and share them with their schools.

Chaz Martin, public affairs officer of the U.S. Consulate General in Almaty, noted the talks highlighted the typical experiences of soldiers from both countries.

“We organised a demonstration of photographs and films which were never shown. They are about everyday people who did great things, about women in the war, the U.S. and Soviet cooperation and of course Kazakhstan’s contribution to the cause of peace and one victory for all people in the world. These events are very important for us and we admit great achievements of Kazakhstan veterans. In addition, we organised the virtual meeting using the Internet, which helped the Council of World War II Veterans and the U.S.-based organisation Veterans of Foreign Wars to share the experience,” he said.

Timur Pochanov, a representative of the Council of World War II Veterans, valued the effort of all involved in coordinating the meeting.

“We are truly thankful to the staff of the Consulate General of the U.S. in Almaty who visited our office in the fall of 2014, met veterans of World War II, nongovernmental organisation staffand volunteers of the nongovernmental organisation The Council of World War II Veterans, Home Guard and Kids of the War. The meeting was very cognitive and constructive. During the discussion, we came to the conclusion that it will be very beneficial for us and for the similar organisation in the U.S. to hold a session on experience exchange on how veterans are being assisted and what are the milestones on building relationships with government bodies, as well as fundraising. The consulate staff took the burden of setting up such an Internet-based meeting. We decided to hold the meeting from the consulate office, so we started our meeting at 7 p.m. our time. We knew it was quite early morning in D.C., so we truly appreciate our colleagues in the U.S. for coming so early to the office because of us,” he said.

Pochanov reviewed the items which were covered in the session.

“It is worth mentioning the high level of organisation of the web conference. We had a clear plan, time limit and detailed agenda for the meeting. For the start, we had an introduction session where each side talked about the organisation they represent. We were lucky to meet two nongovernmental organisations from the U.S. Then we talked about the ways and principles by which nongovernmental organisations in Kazakhstan and the U.S. work. We then talked about the ways nongovernmental organisations of these two countries cooperate with the local government administration, how interests of veterans are being defended and how they are being lobbied to initiate introduction of certain regulations. We also talked about the ways these veterans organisations are financed. Some good and relevant recommendations have been provided by our colleagues, which made this discussion very lively. It was of great interest for us to learn of existing social adaptation programmes for the veterans in the U.S. And we had an impression that our colleagues in the U.S. were very much impressed by the projects our nongovernmental organisation is implementing, especially by the project of targeted assistance to the veterans. It was a great surprise for them that such a huge project gets financial assistance solely based on individual and corporate donations from those who feel social responsibility for the veterans who sacrificed their life and health for the right cause,” he said about the meeting.

Pochanov noted that six people took part in this session from the Kazakh side, including individuals from the nongovernmental organisation staff, volunteers and consulate office staff. He also thanked the consulate not only for providing the facility and equipment to hold this session, but also for arranging for an interpreter to facilitate the dialogue.

“We did not have a purpose to involve a big number of volunteers, as this was the first meeting and mainly nongovernmental organisation staff and a couple of volunteers took part this time.The most important thing for us is the fact that we got acquainted and we also agreed that we will continue our cooperation and experience exchange exercises and quite possibly initiate a combined project.This type of event motivates us very much; we learn from each other, share best practices and finally we meet really nice people and we grow professionally with them. In this regard we count on the support from the Consulate General of the U.S. in Almaty,” he said.