In view of the expanding population of ex-servicemen (ESM) and widows, there were persistent demands from service Headquarters and various associations for a separate Department to look after the welfare, resettlement and rehabilitation of ESM, war widows and their dependents. In 1986, a decision was taken to create an independent resettlement division in the Department of Defence.
A new Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare (DESW) was created in the Ministry of Defence on 22nd September, 2004 in order to pay focused attention to the welfare and resettlement of ESM. DESW is mandated to formulate and implement various policies and programmes for the welfare and resettlement of Ex-Servicemen in the country. The Department consists of two Divisions i.e. (i) Pension Division; and (ii) Resettlement Division. The Pension Division of the Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare deals with pension policies for the Armed Forces personnel and redressal of grievances of Ex-servicemen whereas the Resettlement Division looks after the remaining matters. Further, DESW has 3 Attached offices namely, Kendriya Sainik Board Secretariat (KSB Sectt.), Directorate General of Resettlement, (DGR) and Central Organisation, Ex-servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (CO, ECHS).
KSB Sectt. is responsible for the welfare of Ex-Servicemen and their dependents and also for the administration of welfare funds. It is assisted in its task by 34 Rajya Sainik Boards (RSBs) and 403 Zila Sainik Boards (ZSBs), which are under the administrative control of respective State Governments/Union Territory Administrations. The Government of India shares 75% of the expenditure incurred on the maintenance of RSBs/ZSBs in respect of the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura, Sikkim, Uttarakhand, Jammu & Kashmir, and Himachal Pradesh and 60% for other States/UTs while the remaining expenditure is borne by respective State Governments.
The office of Directorate General of Resettlement implements various Policies / Schemes / Programmes for pre and post retirement training, re-employment and self- employment of ex-servicemen. The DGR is assisted in its task by 5 Directorate Resettlement Zones (DRZs) co-located with the Army Command Headquarters at Udhampur, Chandimandir, Lucknow, Kolkata and Pune.
Central Organisation, Ex-Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme takes care of the healthcare and medical needs of Ex-servicemen and their dependents through a network of 427 polyclinics across the country.