Madikeri (Karnataka), Aug 6 (IANS) Terming the hilly Kodagu region in south Karnataka a land of brave warriors, Chief of Army Staff General Dalbir Singh on Saturday announced a slew of benefits for veterans and war widows including dedicated hospitals and health scheme.
“Kodagu is a land of heroes, which gave the country two army chiefs . It is a special place from where generals, lieutenant colonels, brigadiers and brave jawans served the country over the decades,” Singh said at a veterans rally in this Karnataka town, about 260km from Bengaluru.
The two army chiefs were Field Marshal K.M. Cariappa, the first Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, and General K.S. Thimayya (1957-61), who had been the only Indian to command an infantry brigade in the Second World War.
Noting that not many chiefs had come here to meet serving and retired warriors, Singh said it was the duty of the army to look after veterans and war widows, pay homage to the martyrs and acknowledge their invaluable contribution to the organisation and nation-building.
“Since I took over (as army chief), I have been stressing a lot on the welfare of ex-servicemen. We are holding 103 such rallies for veterans and veer naris (war widows) this year across the country as against 63 rallies last year,” he told a huge gathering of serving and retired soldiers and their families here.
About 1,800 veterans and war widows from Kodagu district and neighbouring areas participated in the rally braving inclement weather and spell of rains.
“More than ensuring all benefits and facilities to the veterans and war widows, I have told all commands that respect is the most important thing for ex-servicemen. We have appointed two persons at every polyclinic to take care of them and their needs when they visit for check-up or treatment,” Singh noted.
In recognition of the services and sacrifices made by ex-warriors, the General said the army would hold, every year, a ‘Veterans Rally’ on January 14, the day Field Marshals Cariappa and Sam Manekshaw, the only other to hold the rank, retired from service.
The focus of the rally will be to resolve anomalies in the disbursement of pension and legal cases the veterans face for justice.
“A proposal is before the government to set up 10 regional hospitals for veterans, which will be increased in phases. Four have been cleared and six more are waiting for approval in phase one,” Singh said.
The army has also started an Ex-servicemen Comprehensive Health Scheme (ECHS) across the country, including remote areas for the benefit of veterans.
“The idea is to re-touch their lives and take care of them just the same way we did when they were in service,” Singh added.
Expressing the army’s solidarity with its retired fraternity, he assured them that the army and the government would be sensitive to their needs.
Earlier in the day, Singh attended a memorial service and laid a wreath at the war memorial built in the honour of Field Marshal Cariappa, at the Cariappa Memorial Park in the heart of this picturesque hill town. He also visited “Sunny Side”, the last abode of General Thimayya in the town.
Organised by the army’s Karnataka and Kerala sub-area, the rally had a medical camp, pension clinic, canteen service and stalls of the Army Welfare Education Society, Army Welfare Placement Organisation, Army Veterans’ Cell, Aadhar card registration and bank loan facilities.