Kolkata, June 6: Ex-servicemen in West Bengal can now dial 1904 to get any medical help or even for buying provisions from the canteen.
Former Army Chief General Shankar Roy Chowdhury today inaugurated the 24/7 veteran helpline 'VEcare 1904' at Fort William, the headquarters of Army's Eastern Command for former personnel of the Army, Air Force and Navy.
Eastern Army Commander Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi recalled a recent case where a defence veteran was lying unattended in his apartment after falling sick and when he was hospitalised on the third day it was too late to save him.
He hoped that such incidents are not repeated and added they had tied up with 3-4 ambulance service providers to ensure that medical help reached the sick promptly. Even serving personnel of the tri-services could seek help from the helpline. "They want respect and a feeling of being wanted. This is our top goal.
Our priority is giving them medical facilities. We are not short of funds," Bakshi said. On pension relates issues, he said crores of rupees were lying unclaimed in banks, mainly SBI and PNB. In the last few months in the area of Eastern Command, about Rs 8.5 crores of pension money had already been distributed to ex-servicemen.
Giving the example of a "Veer Nari" (widow of a defence personnel) who is now hopeful of getting an accumulated sum of Rs 40 lakh, he said many jawans and even officers have not claimed their dues from the government.
Bakshi also said that in the end of June, the Army, NRDF and other agencies would conduct a disaster management exercise in Guwahati where the political and bureaucratic hierarchy would also be involved.
He said since they had been handling disaster management for a long time, such exercise would help in better civil and military co-ordination.