In a blow to short-service commission (SSC) officers of the armed forces, the government seems to have backtracked on a promise to provide them post-retirement medical benefits, with the defence ministry putting it in writing that this would not be possible due to “stressed” resources.
SSC officers serve for limited tenures of up to 14 years at a young age to meet a shortage faced by the services with the idea being that a greater proportion of the officer cadre would be made up of such personnel who can take on duties that require intense activity.
The problem in attracting talent for such roles has been the uncertainty over job prospects after serving and the lack of benefits that full-term officers get. While the previous UPA government said in late 2009 it would provide medical facilities to all SSC officers after discharge under the Employees Contributory Health Services (ECHS) scheme, a rollback now seems to have taken place.
A letter from the Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare under the defence ministry, which ET has seen, makes it clear that the government has no intention to help SSC officers with medical facilities. In the letter dated November 14, the department said that as short service officers are not pensioners, they are not eligible for the scheme and any change would raise a demand to include other no pensioners in ECHS.
“Any substantial increase in the number of beneficiaries will require augmentation of the already stressed resources (budget, manpower, polyclinic and allied infrastructure of ECHS,” the department told an association of ex-servicemen who had raised an update request.
Source: The Economic Times