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As most readers would know, non-pensioner ex-servicemen,
including our Short Service Commissioned Officers (SSCOs) and Emergency Commissioned
Officers (ECOs) are entitled to limited out-patient medical facilities from Military
Hospitals (MHs). Such non-pensioners are also entitled to medical reimbursement
through the Kendriya Sainik Board (KSB) in case an MH certifies that the facility
is not available in the concerned MH.
There are various letters to the above effect but during the
last decade or so there was stiff resistance by the office of Director General
Armed Forces Medical Services (DGAFMS) to these policies and they even unilaterally
stopped providing such facilities to our non-pensioner ex-servicemen. Even medical
reimbursement scheme by KSB was almost rendered redundant since MHs stopped
issuing certificates to the effect.
Resultantly, the affected personnel had to approach the Armed Forces Tribunal
which in turn directed the Govt to continue providing limited medical
facilities to such veterans.
However, as has been brought out earlier also (see this,
this and this), the Army, on insistence of DGAMFS itself challenged the verdict
before the Supreme Court. Meaning thereby, that the Army itself prayed before the Supreme Court that the Army should be directed to stop
providing medical facilities to the affected former members of the Army.
What could be more ironic?
In fact, the terminal benefits brochure issued by the AG’s
Branch also clearly mentioned the procedure and medical facilities for non-pensioner
veterans such as SSCs but elements in the Army HQ forced the AG’s Branch to
eliminate that particular part of the brochure and the said clause is conspicuously
absent from the lately issued versions of the brochure.
Why I am bringing this subject again is to bring to light
the following factors after which the readers may themselves decide whether the
organisation is being fair to its own veterans or not:-
A. Army Postal Service personnel who may have served in
the Army only for 6 months (or more) have been made eligible for proper Ex-Servicemen
Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) facilities, while our own ex-servicemen who
may have served much longer are not even being allowed to avail their limited
medical facilities to which they are entitled to under existing instructions.
B. Nepal domiciled non-citizens of the Indian Army can
now avail full and proper ECHS facilities in Nepal.
C. An ‘in-principle’
approval rendered by AK Antony for extending ECHS facilities to SSCOs
has not yet been implemented by issuance of instructions to the effect since it
has faced major resistance from within the Army.
The idea is not to say that APS personnel or Nepalese
citizens should not be granted ECHS facilities. They definitely should be. But
the question is that while all and sundry are being included under the actual
ECHS, our old non-pensioner veterans covered under the definition of ‘Ex-Serviceman’
such as World War II veterans and War Veterans under the Emergency Commission
are being illegally denied even existing limited facilities to which they are entitled
to? While the office of the DGAFMS runs around to get the Dynamic Assured Career Progression (DACP) scheme implemented for its officers, what about the minimum assured izzat scheme for our veterans?
What message are we sending to the world at large?