The Veterans Cell was raised in April, 2013 as a single window for the redressal of veterans’ issues and aspirations at Army HQ level. Since then, its role and charter has expanded considerably, to include matters beyond the usual pension and welfare related issues. It does not only interact with the line directorates and welfare societies at the AG Branch, but also with other directorates, state governments, skilling agencies and placement partners across the country. These enhanced functions required the scaling up of the Army Veterans Cell into the Directorate of Indian Army Veterans (DIAV) at the AG Branch. It now functions directly under the Adjutant General, thereby according the required importance to the management of Veteran affairs in the Indian Army.
Structure and Salient Characteristics: DIAV
The Directorate of Indian Army Veterans (DIAV) shall comprise of four operating sections. These are as follows:
- Policy and Outreach Section : This section shall be the lead section and shall act as the nerve centre of the new directorate. Headed by a director level officer, the section will be the first port of call for all veterans, widows and wards. The section is organised into three functional desks. These are:
- The Monitoring Desk;
- The Veterans Outreach Desk; and
- The Data Management & Web Portal Desk.
The section is also tasked to operate the Indian Army Veterans Web Portal and any other portals or links that the organisation might be asked to field in the future.
- Pensions & Entitlement Section : This section shall be the bulwark of the directorate and will be responsible for all functions pertaining to pensions and entitlements, including sanction, disbursal, and related legal redress and correction. The section will maintain close liaison with the Manpower Planning & Personnel Services Directorate at AG Branch, as also the Record Offices and PCDA (O) & PCDA (P) to provide the necessary advice and assistance to veterans, widows and disabled soldiers. In due course, this section will also take on the functions of CPGRAMS that are presently being handled by the Personnel Services Directorate at Army HQ. The section will also host the databases of the Manpower Planning Directorate on a shared basis to provide real time information on personnel records to the retired fraternity.
- Benefits & Welfare Section : This section shall be responsible for grievance management relating to all services deemed admissible to a veteran post-retirement, including medical, education, housing, re-employment insurance related issues, etc. The section will maintain contact and liaise with the AWPO, AWHO, AWES, AGI and ECHS on all policy and delivery related matters that are of concern to the veteran fraternity. This section will also be wholly responsible for the conception and management of the Veterans E-lobby established in the DIAV.
- Skilling and Transition Section : The section will be the Indian Army’s lead on skills and skill development, assessment, certification and placement. The section will provide the necessary policy guidance to the AWPO and its nodes in the field. Besides, the section will steer PROJ DRISHTI that aims to promote the structured self-development of the serving soldiers during their service tenure, to enable the smooth transition of prospective military retirees into a viable second career in civil street.
Support at Veterans E-Lobby
The Veterans E-lobby is a unique facility that is currently in the process of being set up at the DIAV. Once it is up and running, it will offer a range of advisory services to the veterans, widows, disabled soldiers and wards. The E-lobby is designed to provide the following services:
- Banking Services : Banking advice and services relating to pension matters. The SBI and PNB Service Centres have already been incorporated and they have fielded top class banking advice and facilities for the veteran fraternity.
- Disability Care & Support Services : A multi-brand facility has been established to showcase new products for disabled soldiers at the E-lobby. Currently these include HONDA MOTORS and ALIMCO, which have been active in this field. New partners are being identified to provide quality disability care and support products to our veteran community.
- NSDC Skilling Services : A National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) backed Liaison Office is being established at the E-lobby. This office will field Liaison Officers / Consultants from a range of NSDC Sector Skill Councils for advising institutions and individuals about the possible opportunities for skill development, assessment and certification.
- Widow Care & Support Services : A Widows Care and Support Office is proposed to be established at the E-lobby, in due course. This office will provide professional consultancy to the widows and wards, as per their needs. This office will collaborate with the AWWA at the functional level.
- Financial Advisory Services : The DIAV shall also field professional financial advisory services at the E-lobby in due course. The consultants shall render advice to the veterans and widows on various financial products and opportunities, to ensure the viability and security of any personal investments.
- Miscellaneous Services : In due course, the E-lobby will also include a CSD outlet, a reputed cafeteria, and provide intra-cantonment transport services. DIAV transport will pick up and drop veterans from designated points around the cantonment, in accordance with standing routes and time schedules.
The Veterans Cell, now DIAV, has extended its reach in several ways since its raising two years ago. Some data points below are indicate the achievements of the Veterans Cell.
- Handled 18,314 and 19,207 grievances in various formats during FY 2014 and FY 2015-16 respectively.
- Disbursed approximately Rs. 32.32 crores and Rs 26.25 crores to 7715 and 4478 beneficiaries during the FY-2014-15 to FY-2015-16 respectively.
- Provided policy advice and support to approx 24 EXSM rallies across the country.
- The Indian Army Veterans Portal launched in June 2014 has till date logged a total of 3,60,603 hits. The portal has also undertaken 1,64,200 registrations till date and handled approx 3,144 complaints since its inception.
- The AWPO and its nodes have provided __________ jobs countrywide during the last FY.
Future Projects and Programmes
The DIAV shall ever endeavour to live by its motto - WE CARE & WE SUPPORT. It is presently poised to launch the following programmes in 2016:
- Veterans Contact Programme
- Widows Care and Support Programme
- Disabled Soldiers Care and Support Programme
- Veterans Pension Anomaly & Resolution Programme