Image Courtesy: MoD

India has a large and diverse population of Ex-Servicemen, who are former members of the country’s Armed Forces. They have served the nation with honour and courage, and deserve respect and appreciation for their sacrifices. But how do we define who is an Ex-Serviceman? And what are the benefits and facilities that they enjoy? In this article, we will answer these questions and more, as we explore the pride and privilege of being an Ex-Serviceman in India.

Who is an Ex-Serviceman or ESM?

“An Ex-Serviceman or ESM in India is a person who has served in any rank (whether as a combatant or non-combatant) in the regular Army, Navy, or Air Force of the Indian Union and has retired or been released from such service with any kind of pension or gratuity. An Ex-Serviceman can also be a person who has served in the Armed Forces of the former Indian states and has been absorbed into the Indian Union”. However, an Ex-Serviceman does not include a person who has served in the Assam Rifles, Central Reserve Police Force, Border Security Force, Central Industrial Security Force, Indo-Tibetan Border Police, or other paramilitary forces.

The eligibility for Ex-Servicemen status is determined by the definition applicable at the time of discharge. These definitions have been updated and amended several times over the years, to reflect the changing circumstances and needs of the former service personnel.
The most recent changes are:

  • October 10, 2012: The definition was expanded to include various scenarios of retirement, discharge, or release from service, to ensure a wider coverage of Ex-Servicemen.
  • July 7, 2014: The status of Ex-Recruits was extended to all those who were boarded out or released on medical grounds, regardless of their date of discharge, granting them Ex-Servicemen status.

Depending on the year and month of their discharge, Ex-Servicemen may fall under different criteria for Ex-Servicemen status. Here are the main periods and their corresponding conditions:

  • July 1966 to June 1968: Anyone who left the service during this period, without being dismissed or discharged for bad conduct or poor performance, is an Ex-Serviceman. It does not matter what rank or role they had in the Armed Forces.
  • July 1968 to June 1971: Those who served for at least six months continuously and left the service under the same conditions as above are Ex-Servicemen.
  • July 1971 to June 1974: This period covers the same criteria as the previous one, except that it also includes the time of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, which resulted in the creation of Bangladesh.
  • July 1974 to June 1979: Those who served for at least six months after joining the Armed Forces and left the service with honour are Ex-Servicemen.
  • July 1979 to June 1987: Those who served for at least six months continuously after joining the Armed Forces and left the service for any reason other than their request or misconduct or inefficiency are Ex-Servicemen. However, if they left the service at their request, they must have served for at least five years to qualify.
  • July 1987 onwards: Anyone who served in the Armed Forces and received a pension from the Defence budget or retired after meeting certain terms of engagement with a gratuity is an Ex-Serviceman.

What are the Benefits and Facilities for Ex-Servicemen?

An Ex-Serviceman in India is eligible for various benefits and facilities from the Government and the Armed Forces, such as:

  • Pension and gratuity: These are based on the rank, length of service, and last pay drawn by the Ex-Serviceman. They provide a regular income and a lump sum amount to the Ex-Serviceman and his family after retirement or release from service.
  • Ex-Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS): This scheme provides cashless medical treatment to Ex-Servicemen and their dependents at various ECHS polyclinics and empanelled hospitals. It covers a wide range of diseases and procedures and also provides reimbursement for medicines and tests.
  • Canteen Stores Department (CSD): This department provides various products and services at subsidized rates to Ex-Servicemen and their families through thousands of Unit Run Canteens (URCs). These include groceries, household items, clothing, electronics, vehicles, liquor, etc.
  • Kendriya Sainik Board (KSB): This is an organization under the Ministry of Defence that provides various welfare schemes and scholarships for Ex-Servicemen and their dependents, such as the Prime Minister’s Scholarship Scheme, Raksha Mantri Ex-Servicemen Welfare Fund, Education Concession Scheme, Penury Grant, etc. These schemes aim to support the education, livelihood, and well-being of the Ex-Servicemen and their families.
  • Zila Sainik Board (ZSB) and Rajya Sainik Board (RSB): These are administrative bodies at the district and state levels, respectively, that look after the welfare of  Ex-Servicemen and their dependents and implement various Schemes, Grants, Concessions, and Entitlements at the local level. These include financial assistance, Legal Aid, Employment Guidance, Resettlement Training, etc. Exploring KSB, RSB, and ZSB: the backbone of support for ESM & their families
  • Directorate General Resettlement (DGR): This is an agency under the Ministry of Defence that provides various opportunities for the resettlement and rehabilitation of Ex-Servicemen, such as training courses, employment assistance, Self-Employment Schemes, etc. These opportunities help the Ex-Servicemen to utilize their skills and experience in the civilian sector and earn a decent income.
  • Reservation and priority in Jobs, Education, Housing, and other sectors: These are provided by the government and the private sector to Ex-Servicemen and their dependents as per the rules and regulations. These help the Ex-Servicemen and their families to secure their future and enjoy a dignified life.

Image courtesy MoD

The Final Word

The Ex-Serviceman of India are a diverse and proud group of people, who have served the nation in various capacities and roles. They are entitled to Ex-Servicemen status based on the definition applicable at the time of their discharge. These definitions are meant to recognize and support their contributions to the Armed Forces and the country. The Ex-Servicemen also enjoy various benefits and facilities from the government and the Armed Forces, which help them to lead a comfortable and respectable life. The Ex-Servicemen are the pride and privilege of India, and we salute them for their service and sacrifice.

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