The challenges faced by a soldier on the war front may make them lonely and vulnerable. So on the home front they need to be at ease,without any stress or tension. This is where the family members of the commanding officers have a big role to play.
In perhaps the first attempt to address the stress and challenges faced by the wives of Commanding Officers (COs),a lecture-cum seminar was organised recently at the Army War College,Mhow.
The lecture was delivered by Lt Col (retd) Samir Rawat,a Kargil veteran,who addressed a gathering of around 70 to 80 women,trying to instill in them the idea that the way to a peaceful war front is via supportive and compassionate home front.
The job of a Commanding Officer is challenging and stressful. Their better halves,their wives need to empathise with this and ensure that they themselves do not become a source of stress for their husbands and in turn the unit. The motive behind this lecture (titled Reducing stress and stabilising home front) was to make the ladies understand their role as the wife of a CO and the responsibility they play as the guardian of the unit and its families, Rawat,who is an Armoured Corps officer and a psychologist,said.
Rawats training module is based on a research that shows that stress on soldiers during peace time is comparatively more than that during war or Counter Insurgency (CI) Operations.
When an officer is posted on the front,his wife is living an independent life of her own. She is a single parent managing the household. Research suggests that she starts to feel that her husband is never around when she needs him the most. Peace posting is the time when the wife can get the soldier back with her, Rawat said.
Peace time is also the only time when an officer gets time for himself and his family,but not without its own set of additional challenges,feels Rawat.
Commitments of an officer increase during peace posting. Training,administration,visits of senior officers these responsibilities add to his stress. Moreover,when the officer is a CO or any formation commander for that matter,his wife is an office-holder of Army Wives Welfare Association (AWWA) and hence has a responsibility towards the families of other soldiers in the unit as well, said Rawat.
Meanwhile,the wives of COs also had their own set of questions for Rawat. Organising AWWA activities at the drop of a hat or dealing with the frequency of visits of wives of senior officers or even not being able to understand the professional aspects of an officers life were a few of them.
Once,a senior officer failed to make it to the next rank and looked stressed. When I questioned him,it turned out that he was worried thinking of what his wife would think of him. Issues such as these have an answer in stress-optimisation techniques and wives have a bigger,a more matured role to play. The lecture has set the ball rolling, Rawat said.