War Wounded Foundation was incorporated in August 2002, with the intention of creating long-term avenues for the financial independence of all war-disabled personnel of the army, navy and air force.
There are nearly 10,000 war-disabled personnel, scattered in all parts of the country. On account of the extensive employment of the armed forces, especially the army, in major counter-insurgent and counter-terrorist operations in many parts of the country, there is a constant addition to the number of such personnel.
The Foundation does not get any funds from any government agency. We carry on our activities by receiving donations from individuals, Trusts, groups and philanthropists.
The Chief of Army Staff has been the ex-officio Patron-in-Chief of the Foundation since its inception. The present Patron-in-Chief is General Dalbir Singh, PVSM, UYSM, AVSM, VSM, ADC.
The four office-bearers of the Foundation, viz. Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi, PVSM, AVSM, VSM – President; Maj Gen Ian Cardozo, AVSM, SM – Vice President; Brig Veer Pratap – Executive Director; and Brig Mahalingam – Additional Executive Director; take no honorarium. We have a modest office at New Delhi, manned by two persons, who are paid employees.
We interact with the war-disabled personnel by conducting rallies in districts and tehsils and meeting them in our offices and larger events that we organize periodically.
The aim of the Foundation is to ensure that all war-disabled personnel become productive citizens by participating in the economic development of the nation, besides being able to supplement their meager pension, including disability pension, thereby leading a comfortable and respectable life.
As the bulk of our troops hail from rural areas, they prefer to return to their roots after their military service and are not inclined to take up jobs in cities. Recognizing this reality, the Foundation decided to take the work to them, by organizing outlets/sub-dealerships for them in their villages or close to them. For this, we approached corporate houses whose products have a rural market, for giving agencies for their products to the war-disabled personnel, who would sell these in their villages and get commissions on sales, without any overheads; they could also be assisted by their family members, in cases where the disability was severe.
This was a successful venture and we were able to secure outlets for over 100 disabled personnel. Thereafter, we found that the enterprise was petering out, on account of two main reasons. Firstly, there was reluctance on the part of the war-disabled to become traders, as their ethos of being soldiers first was coming in the way. Secondly, the wholesalers of the corporate entities favoured their own retailers in terms of making up inventory and prices.
On account of these reasons, we changed tack and commenced provision of ‘skills’ as our main effort, although the initial work of getting outlets continued. We identified a number of ‘skills’ that would assist the war-disabled personnel to stand on their feet. The skills identified are ‘computer training; ‘spoken English’; ‘small repairs (on TV, radios etc’); ‘welding training’; ‘cycle repair’ and so on. Lately, we have added ‘driving autos’ to the list.
As some of the war –disabled, especially of earlier vintages, are reluctant to learn new ‘skills’, we opened the facility to their wards too. Two years back we trained 25 war-disabled personnel or their wards on various ‘skills’ and gave each a ‘Skills Scholarships’ amounting to Rs. 1.25 lacs. This year, a similar number are being trained.
The Foundation has also been fielding a team in the Mumbai and Delhi Marathons for the last four years, in which my Vice President – Maj Gen Ian Cardozo and I also participate. We both are above 73 years of age with 70% disability on account of losing a leg each in battle. The participation in the Mumbai and Delhi Marathons is for the twin reasons of ‘visibility’ and ‘motivation’.