The Soldiers serving in operational areas in the furthest and remote locations, unlike the members of any other organization, due to the nature of their duties, risk their own lives to safeguard the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country. They have to be separated from their loved ones and continue to live under severe tension and stress for prolonged periods. Therefore, they have to either forego or completely sacrifice the normal or even the basic privileges, in the least, enjoyed by employees of other establishments. Besides being compelled to live away from their families, they also have to live under extreme tension in trying conditions. Therefore, it is with the view to providing better living condition and to boost the morale of the soldiers, the Directorate of Welfare was established on 23rd May 1989. The main aim of the Directorate is to coordinate and promote welfare activities of the Officers and Other Ranks, as approved by the Commander of the Army. An Additional Directorate of Welfare was subsequently established to tackle welfare activities pertaining to the soldiers who are killed-in-action, missing-in-action and wounded-in-action and their families.
Profile & The History Of The Directorate Of Welfare
The Directorate of Welfare is the central body for the welfare activities of the Army in its diversified fields and is the biggest institution that generates funds, which are re-cycled for the welfare of the troops. Whilst 75% of the profits are used for this purpose, the balance 25% is credited to the Welfare Fund of the Commander of the Army which is utilized on projects decided by the Commander. The Director is the chief executive and the custodian of the funds invested by the Officers and soldiers, and a Board of Management makes all policy decisions. This board consists of the Deputy Chief of Staff as the Chairman and the Director Welfare, the Director Budget and Finance, and the Commanding Officer Headquarters Battalion as members by virtue of their appointments.
The Welfare Directorate was established with a capital of Rupees 1.5 Million contributed by way of shares of Rs: 500/= each by Officers and Other Ranks. Though the fund was initially identified as the 'Welfare Fund' it was later renamed as 'Welfare Society Fund' in the year 1998 in order to avoid confusion as there were more funds with similar names.
Agency Post Office at Army Headquarters Complex
Since there was a requirement to open a post office in the Army Headquarters complex to cater to well over 2000 Army personnel employed within the complex, the Directorate of Welfare established an Agency Post Office at the Army Headquarters complex on 10th Oct 1989. This project is not only providing a great service to all concerned but also is generating quite a good margin of profit to the Welfare Society fund.
Supply of Newspapers
Provision of newspapers daily for reading pleasure of the troops deployed in operational areas is another facility offered by the Directorate.
Distribution of Sweets, Delicacies etc
Sweets and delicacies are distributed to troops deployed in operational areas during festive seasons by this Directorate.
Donations and Welfare Items
Receipt of donations made by philanthropists, organisations, well wishers, etc, to the Army and distribution of such donations to the Military or Medical establishments as appropriate are tasks carried out by the Directorate of Welfare.
Scholarships for Undergraduates
A fund has been formed to grant financial assistance to undergraduates who are children of Army personnel. The fund was formed with the contribution of one day's salary made by the Army personnel and with the one-cent profit made from the sale of cigarettes. The fund that commenced with an amount of Rs. 1.5 million initially has now risen to a total of Rs. 9 million.
Additional Welfare Projects
Directorate of Additional Welfare in the Army is one of the major establishments that extends all possible assistance to family members of the soldiers who died in action and went missing during the warfare. Children, wives, parents or the immediate next of kin of those War Heroes are among the prime scope of a number of welfare projects being launched by this Directorate.
Construction of houses for those Ranaviru families is the leading project now in progress. To-date 24 Ranaviru Villages have been established in several districts and many Ranaviru families have already been settled.
| Ranaviru Housing Projects
New Chatal Watta
Horana – Govinna
Kosgama – Salawa
Lunama – Ambalantota
Galnewa – Ottapahuwa
Elahera – Diyabeduma
Out of a total number of 1055 recipients of those houses, 326 families are from those War Heroes who were Killed In Action (KIA) and other 729 are for those soldiers Wounded In Action (WIA).
In addition to the state assistance, various other private institutions financed those housing schemes. Following leading businessmen, senior citizens and private institutions have contributed largely in providing shelter to the Ranaviru families in respective districts.
1. Mr. Janaka Bogollagama
2. Guruge Property Sales
3. Mrs Hema Premadasa
4. Bodyline Garment
5. Slim Line Garment
Blocks of lands received from various government establishments were also distributed among several families in the following manner.
ESTABLISHMENT NUMBER OF BLOCKS
1. Land Reform Commission 424
2. Mahaweli Authority 516
3. Divisional Secretariats 74
A total of 501 families of the soldiers killed in action and 513 wounded in action were the recipients of these lands.
Other welfare projects include;
a. Issue of ID cards to WIA and also to NOK s of KIA personnel
b. Issue of free transportation passes (Bus/Railway) to the WIA
c. Assisting NOKs/relatives to find job opportunities.
d. Scholarships for those children/relatives of the KIA & WIA families
a. Construction of 25 houses at Kekirawa Ranaviru Village (Stage II)
b. Construction of houses in another land donated by a philanthropist.
Welfare is an important function to boost the morale of the soldiers both serving and retired. Embarking on efficient and effective welfare schemes will have a direct impact on recruitment and retention of all ranks .