Battled with his own mind, now Kargil hero eases others’ pain

Samir Rawat

The story of Kargil veteran Lt Col (retd) Dr Samir Rawat is quite fascinating. It is the story of how a war-hardened Armed Corps officer, with unusual tenures in the Siachen glacier, saw the need to look inside the minds of soldiers who fight to protect the nation's frontiers and its people.

He became the only 'home-grown psychologist-officer' of the Indian Army and the first counselor for over 2,000 officers-to-be at the National Defence Academy (NDA).

In May this year, military psychologists from around the world will gather in Berne, Switzerland, to deliberate on the practical applications of military psychology. Lt Col (retd) Dr Samir Rawat will be one of them. He will present a paper on 'Psychology and Combat Veterans'.

The twist in the story of this combat veteran, who had a 'mention-in-dispatches' in the 1999 Kargil war, came from a single Pakistani bullet. For most field officers, life ends when one can't be on the field. But that was not the case with Rawat.

"Commissioned into the 75th Armoured Regiment, I was attached to the Ladakh Scouts in the 1999 operations posted in the Batalik sector. Ceasefire had been announced, but cross-border firing continued. A young major then, I had just finished field dressing of one of my men, and just as we moved ahead, a bullet hit me in the knee and I blacked out. A Ladakhi dragged me behind a rock and dressed my wound. Later, when we were de-inducted, I was heli-lifted to Chandigarh, where I spent five months in a chair. My field career was over!

"It were these five months that compelled me to think about the psychological aspects of conflict," Rawat explained, while narrating his experience on the frontiers.

Politely rejecting the advice from fellow officers to hang the uniform, Rawat embarked on a new journey, this time into the minds of the soldiers.

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