That familiar expression has resonated again and yet again down the centuries as gallant officers – leading from the front – encouraged bravehearts under their command to advance dauntlessly on blood-bespattered and nightmarish battlefields. Alas, civilian existence often presents a fresh set of Herculean challenges for ex-servicemen (ESM). At that juncture, a helping hand is required in keeping with the noble sentiment of ‘leave no man behind’.
The New Delhi-based NGO ‘Support Our Heroes’ (SOU) – registered in February 2017 – is endeavouring to make a positive difference in the lives of defence personnel and their families through public awareness and various welfare programmes.
In the latest instance, tenth standard-pupil Rilneikhap Shongthu – the son of erstwhile sepoy Ashong Shongthu who is a non-pensioner suffering from epilepsy – has been taken under SOU’s wing.
“An (initial) cheque for Rs 10,000 was dispatched (to Manipur’s Senapati district) on Wednesday for payment of school expenses. Ashong cannot do regular work owing to the health issue. His spouse toils as a daily wage-earner and is the family’s sole breadwinner. We are grateful to veteran Wing Commander Vinod Nebb, Vir Chakra and Bar as well as Sergeant M Srinivas Murthy who came forward to support and contribute so that the boy can continue his education without any hurdle,” SOU Co-Founder and Creative Director Gaurav Shukla – an Army son – told UNI.
The ongoing projects are Insaniyat (to provide material and ensure other arrangements for ex-soldiers and their families as well as the socially downtrodden), Pithu (lifelong monthly ration kits to ESM [or widows] over 65 years of age who are ineligible for pension because they did not serve the entire quantum of 15 years’ pensionable service), Sashakt (to financially empower and provide livelihood opportunities to veer naris/widows of ESM/needy veterans/their dependents) and Saksham (to sponsor education of children).
All these individuals were verified and referred to SOU by the Zila Sainik Boards, Rajya Sainik Boards, Regiments and Records.