Recently the social media was abuzz with the news of Indian soldiers’ pension being cut by 50% for those seeking voluntary retirement after 20 years of service. One suggested methodology is to follow the Canadian Armed Forces Pension scheme. Canadian Armed Forces Pay scales are second only to the Australian.
It is a well established fact that the Armed Forces have a steep pyramidcal structure – more at the officers level – and also at the soldiers level. The need is to have a young and large base – Lieutenants, Captains and Majors for officers and Privates for soldiers.
Canadian Armed Forces offers 50% pension on completion of 10 years of service. Officers who continue further are only put through command and staff courses and they rise up to command battalions/ regiments. This results in:-
- Those wishing to retire after 10 years of service are generally about 35 years old and many even get married and raise their families on retirement.
- The 50% pension assures them a constant income and facilitate them to embark on a new career.
- The pyramidical structure of the Forces is considerably reduced.
- Those wishing to serve beyond 10 years receive their pension on a sliding scale to be 100% with 20 years of service.
Among those invalidated out or those who sought voluntary retirement due to medical disabilities, about 40 per cent were for mental health, about half of those were diagnosed as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Most Indian Army soldiers and officers do suffer from PTSD due to intense combat situations they face – Canadian Armed Forces hardly face any such situation. Luckily the military echelons never accepted the existence of PTSD in the Indian Army – hence no claimants for disability pension.
Canadian Veterans who qualify for disability benefits receive up to 75 per cent of the salary they were earning when they left the Forces. They are guaranteed benefits for 24 months initially, or until age 65 for those completely disabled, after which the Canadian Pension Plan (CPP) kicks in.
The rise of mental health claims is often chalked up to Canada’s difficult 2002-11 combat mission in Afghanistan. The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBCS) noted that the Afghanistan mission was far from the only source of mental health risks. Even at home in Canada, military service means moving often and spending time on duty far from family – a standard practise for most Indian soldiers.
Common disability among Canadian soldiers for Fiscal Year 2018–19 were:-
- TINNITUS 6,726
- HEARING LOSS 6,139
- PTSD 2,440
- ARTHROSIS OF KNEE 842
- OSTEOARTHRITIS KNEE 781
- DEPRESSIVE DISORDERS 721
- LUMBAR DISC DISEASE 629
- OSTEOARTHRITIS HIP 617
- CERVICAL DISC DISEASE 578
- FACET JOINT SYNDROME 50
Tinnitus is defined as the perception of a sound in one or both ears or in the head when it does not arise from a stimulus in the environment. A single indication or complaint of tinnitus is not sufficient for diagnostic purposes. The condition must be present for at least 6 months. Individuals who experience tinnitus have provided many different descriptions of what the tinnitus sounds like to them. Descriptions include high-pitched sound, ringing sound, whistle, squealing sound, hum, pulse-like sound, etc
There are two general types of Hearing Loss – sensorineural (sometimes called perceptive) and conductive hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss is hearing loss due to a defect in the cochlea or the auditory nerve whereby nerve impulses from the cochlea to the brain are attenuated. Conductive hearing loss means the partial or complete loss of hearing due to defective sound conduction of the external auditory canal or of the middle ear. A mixed hearing loss is a combination of sensorineural and conductive. A hearing loss disability exists when there is a Decibel Sum Hearing Loss (DSHL) of 100 dB or greater at frequencies of 500,1000, 2000 and 3000 Hz in either ear, or 50 dB or more in both ears at 4000 Hz.
Most Indian Soldiers and Veterans will vouch that a great chunk of them are suffering from Tinnitus or Hearing Loss and also that most soldiers under their command suffered from it – especially those from the Armoured Corps, Regiment of Artillery, Aviation and also Mechanised Infantry.
Will the Indian Military hierarchy ever be willing to accept the existence of Tinnitus, Hearing Loss or PTSD?