Himachal Pradesh is acknowledged as the land of valiant and brave soldiers, which is evident from the fact that so far brave soldiers of the State have won 847 Gallantry awards for valour and bravery while serving in armed forces. As many as 54 soldier sacrificed their lives while defending the boundaries during the Kargil war and out of four Paramveer Chakra given during the Kargil war two soldiers from the state were honoured with Paramveer Chakra which speaks of the bravery and gallantry of Himachali soldiers.
Himachal also can boast of receiving the first ever Paramveer Chakra given to Major Somnath Sharma. So far, four the Himachali soldier has been decorated with Paramveer Chakra, two with Ashoka Chakra and 10 with Mahaveer Chakra, thus contributing in service of the nation. Being a small hill state, Himachal has made its presence felt at the international level because of the supreme sacrifices made by its soldiers during various wars.
Keeping into consideration the sacrifice made by the soldiers for the cause of the nation, the State Government has always been alive to address their problems and initiated various measures for the welfare of both the serving, ex service men and their families. A separate Sanik Welfare Department has been established to look into the welfare of the soldiers and their dependents. Apart from this, Ex-servicemen Welfare Board had also been set up under the Chairmanship of Chief Minister to look into their well being.
The Government has also set up a special employment cell for providing employment opportunities to the ex servicemen of the State. 15 percent of reservation is also being provided in government jobs to ex –servicemen. During the year 2015, as many as 175 ex servicemen and dependents of the martyrs were given employment in Government sector.
At present there are 1,10,366 ex servicemen in the State and around 33,980 war widows and widows of serving soldiers and ex-serviceman. The State Government has enhanced the one time amount being given to the recipient of Paramveer and Ashok Chakras from Rs. 25 lakh to Rs 30 lakh and annuity from Rs. 1.25 lakh to Rs. three lakhs. Besides the amount being given to the recipients of Mahaveer Chakra has been enhanced from Rs.15 lakh to Rs.20 lakh, where as the annual amount has been enhanced to from Rs. 1 lakh to Rs. 2 lakh . The State Government has enhanced the annual amount given under Mention- in- Dispatch from Rs 3000 to Rs 5000. Besides this for the construction of the War Memorial Museum.
The State Government has enhanced the Yudh Jagir amount from Rs. 2000 to 5000 thousand and an amount of Rs. 53 lakh has been spent during the last financial year.
The State Government has provided about Rupees five crore to various bravery award winners. The State Government is providing assistance amount to war martyrs/ physically disabled soldiers during war and their dependents. An assistance of Rs. five lakh is being provided to the war martyrs, Rs 1.50 lakh to soldiers with more than 50 percent disability and soldiers with less 50 percent disability are being provided Rs. 75000. During the last three years a sum of Rs. 1.72 crore has been given as assistance to the dependents of 128 martyr soldiers of different operations.
The State Government is imparting vocational training to the daughters and widows of the martyrs. During last three years 159 girls/ widows have been given training by the Sanik Kalyan Board.
The State Government is also providing free travel facility in HRTC buses to the recipients of various bravery awards. At present, 176 bravery award winners are availing this benefit. Besides this, 655 war widows are also availing the benefit of free travel facility in Himachal Road Transport Corporation buses.
While reading and listening to the valour stories of Himachali soldiers, the youth of the State are getting inspired to enrol themselves in the Army and today hardly there is a village in the state having no person in armed forces . It is a matter of pride for the State and its people that Himachali soldiers have been decorated with highest gallentry awards for showing courage valour in different operations and battlefields.