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ARMED FORCES FLAG DAY FUND: A FUND FOR THE WELFARE & REHAB OF VETERANS

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Picture courtesy: MoD

India is a country that is proud of its brave and dedicated soldiers who serve in the Indian Armed Forces. They protect the country and its people from various threats and challenges, and they sacrifice their lives and limbs for the Nation’s Security & Sovereignty. They are our Heroes, Our Martyrs, Our Veterans, And Our Ex-Servicemen. They and their families deserve our Respect, Gratitude, And Support.

To honour and support our soldiers and their families, India observes the Armed Forces Flag Day on December 7 every year. This is a special day to remember and thank our soldiers for their service to the nation, and to promise to help and care for them and their families. On this day, we also contribute to the Armed Forces Flag Day Fund (AFFDF), a fund that provides financial assistance to veterans, widows, and their dependents, as well as institutions and organizations that help disabled soldiers.

HISTORY OF THE ARMED FORCES FLAG DAY

The Armed Forces Flag Day was first observed on December 7, 1949, after India became an independent republic. The idea was to collect funds from the public to support the welfare and rehabilitation of the Ex-Servicemen and their families. The day was also meant to raise awareness and appreciation for the role and contribution of the Armed Forces in nation-building.

The day was named after the flag that was used to collect the funds. The flag was a small tricolour with four red crosses on a white background, representing the four branches of the Armed Forces: Army, Navy, Air Force, and Territorial Army. The flag was sold to the public in exchange for donations to the fund. Later, the flag was replaced by stickers and badges in the colours of the three services: Red, Deep Blue, And Light Blue.

PURPOSE & SIGNIFICANCE OF THE ARMED FORCES FLAG DAY

The Armed Forces Flag Day is a day to celebrate the spirit and ethos of our Armed Forces and to pay tribute to their gallantry and sacrifice. It is also a day to reaffirm our commitment and obligation to look after our disabled Comrades-in-Arms, widows, and dependents of those who have sacrificed their lives for the country. It is a day to show our appreciation and generosity to the Armed Forces Flag Day Fund and to contribute to the noble cause of the welfare and rehabilitation of our Ex-Servicemen and their families. It is a day to salute and honor our heroes, and to express our pride and gratitude for their service to the nation.

ARMED FORCES FLAG DAY FUND (AFFDF)

The Armed Forces Flag Day Fund (AFFDF) is a fund established by the Ministry of Defence, Government of India, to assist Veterans, Widows, and their Dependents, as well as institutions and organizations created for the rehabilitation of paraplegic soldiers. Paraplegic soldiers are those who cannot move their legs. AFFDF is a noble cause that aims to provide financial assistance to ex-servicemen and their families for various purposes, such as education, medical treatment, marriage, and resettlement. Armed Forces Flag Day Fund also supports the welfare measures and facilities in the districts, such as Rest House for Ex-Servicemen, old age pensioners’ homes, vocational and other training facilities, and hostel for children of serving Defence personnel and Ex-Servicemen.

Armed Forces Flag Day Fund is funded by generous donations from the public, especially on the Armed Forces Flag Day. On this day, a concerted effort is made to raise collections from the public, through various means, such as electronic and print media, social media, online platforms, etc. The significance of the day is brought home through various awareness campaigns, messages, appeals, etc.

In some places, the Armed Forces formations and units also arrange variety shows, carnivals, dramas, and other entertainment programs to attract public attention and participation. Token Flags and Car Stickers in red, deep blue, and light colours, representing the three Services, are distributed to the public throughout the country by the KSB, as a symbol of their support and gratitude.

The donations to Armed Forces Flag Day Fund are exempted from Income Tax under Section 80 G (5) (vi) of the Income Tax Act 1961. AFFDF is also registered with the Office of the Registrar of the Companies, Ministry of Corporate Affairs as an entity to undertake CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) activities. AFFDF is managed by a committee chaired by the Raksha Mantri, with representation from various stakeholders, ensuring transparency and accountability in its operations. The committee is responsible for formulating and implementing various welfare and rehabilitation schemes for ex-servicemen and their families, as well as for monitoring and evaluating the performance and impact of the fund. Visit https://affdf.gov.in for contribution towards Armed Forces Flag Day Fund.

WELFARE SCHEMES OF THE AFFDF FOR ESM

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Picture courtesy: MoD

Armed Forces Flag Day Fund administers a variety of welfare schemes aimed at providing comprehensive support to veterans and their families through the Raksha Mantri Ex-Servicemen Welfare Fund (RMEWF). These schemes include:

1. Assistance to Ex-Servicemen in Penury

This scheme provides a small measure of financial relief to non-pensioner ex-servicemen (ESM) in penury or their widows. Click here to know more

2. Assistance for the Education of Children/Widows of ESM

This scheme provides financial assistance for education to widows of ESM for post-graduation degrees, and to dependent children of ESM up to the ranks of Havildar and equivalent in the Navy and Air Force. Click here to read more

3. Assistance to 100% Disabled Children of ESM

This scheme provides a small measure of relief to 100% of disabled children of ESM. Click here to read more

4. Assistance for Marriage of Daughters of ESM/Remarriage of Widows

This scheme provides financial assistance for widow remarriage and the marriage of daughters of ESM. Click here to read more

5. Assistance to Non-Pensioner ESM for Medical Treatment

This scheme provides financial assistance to non-pensioner ESMs or their widow for medical treatment. Click here to read more

6. Assistance to Orphan Children of ESM

This scheme provides a small measure of relief from total penury to an orphaned child of an ESM. Click here to read more

7. Assistance for Vocational Training of Widows of ESM

This scheme provides financial assistance to a widow of ESM for undergoing a vocational training course. Click here to read more

8. Assistance for Treatment of Serious Diseases to ESM/Widows

This scheme assists non-pensioner ESM and widows to meet medical expenses related to the treatment of serious diseases such as cancer, dialysis, etc. Click here to read more

9. Assistance for Procurement of Mobility Equipment for Disabled ESM

This scheme assists with the procurement of modified scooters for ESM disabled after they retire from service with disability of 50% or more. Click here to read more

10. Assistance as Interest Subsidy on Home Loan

This scheme provides reimbursement of interest on loans taken from banks for the construction of houses. The scheme covers ESM up to the rank of JCO/equivalent of the Army/Navy/Air Force. Click here to read more

WELFARE SCHEMES OF THE AFFDF FOR INSTITUTIONS:

The AFFDF also provides institutional grants to some organizations through the Raksha Mantri Ex-Servicemen Welfare Fund (RMEWF) that cater to the welfare of Ex-Servicemen and their families. Some of these organizations are:

1. Paraplegic Rehabilitation Centre, Khadki: This centre provides rehabilitation and care to paraplegic and tetraplegic ex-servicemen who have suffered spinal cord injuries during service. The KSB gives a lump sum annual grant of Rs 1.2 crore and Rs 30,000 per inmate per annum to this centre.

2. Paraplegic Rehabilitation Centre, Mohali: This centre also provides rehabilitation and care to paraplegic and tetraplegic ex-servicemen who have suffered spinal cord injuries during service. The KSB gives a lump sum annual grant of Rs 10 lakh and Rs 30,000 per inmate per annum to this centre.

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3. Cheshire Homes: These homes provide shelter and care to disabled and destitute ex-servicemen and their dependents. The KSB gives Rs 15,000 per inmate per annum to the Cheshire homes in Delhi, Dehradun and Lucknow.

4. War Memorial Hostels: These hostels provide accommodation and education to the wards of war widows, war disabled and attributable peacetime casualties. The KSB gives Rs 1,350 per ward per month to 35 war memorial hostels across the country.

5. Financial Grant to All India Gurkha Ex-Servicemen Association, Dehradun: This association works for the welfare of Gurkha ex-servicemen and their families. The KSB gives Rs 12,00,000 per annum to this association.

6. Maintenance Grant for Sainik Rest Houses (SRH) in 11 Hill States: These rest houses provide lodging and boarding facilities to ex-servicemen and their families at nominal rates. The KSB gives Rs 50,000 per SRH per year to maintain these rest houses in 11 hill states.

Everything you need to know about Sainik Rest Houses and how to book them

CONCLUSION

The Armed Forces Flag Day Fund provides various benefits and services to the Ex-Servicemen and their families, helping them to cope with their challenges and improve their lives. The fund is a gesture of respect and gratitude to the brave soldiers who have served or are serving in the Indian Armed Forces. It is a fund that supports them and their families to live with dignity. It is a fund that deserves our generosity and support. The Armed Forces Flag Day is a day to celebrate, honour, and contribute to the AFFDF and its noble cause.

The Pride and Privilege of being an Ex-Serviceman in India

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