From minefield to the mind
Lt Col (Dr) Samir Rawat's injury in the Kargil war ended his army career, but, to continue serving the army, he joined the National Defense Academy in Pune as counsellor. The veteran, who retired last week, tells his story of unshakable dedication
The summer of 1999 brought a new chapter in Lt Col (Dr) Samir Rawat’s life. His right leg was injured during the fight with the Pakistan army in Ladakh during the Kargil conflict.
While the struggle put an end to his career in the army, Lt Col (Dr) Rawat never lost his spirit. Soon after, he began studying psychology and acquired global certification in neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), transactional analysis, advanced hypnotherapy and psychological assessment. He also went on to become the first psychologist at National Defense Academy (NDA).
Last week,Lt Col (Dr) Rawat retired from the NDA. He was a psychologist in a premier category (A) cadet training institution of the Indian Army. Besides training, counselling and mentoring, he also conducted classes on leadership, moderation, stress management, resilience building, gender sensitivity for instructors and personnel at NDA.
“I still remember the day of June 21, 1999 when I was posted in Ladakh in the ‘5230 Batalik Sector’. Even after the ceasefire, the Pakistan army continued with the shelling. The shrapnel entered my right leg and I became unconscious,” Lt Col (Dr) Rawat told SMD.
Worse, he was shifted by helicopter to the hospital nearly a month after his injury. “I was operated in a hospital in Chandigarh and was on the wheelchair for nearly five months. However, I was so passionate about the army that I channelised my energies and opened up a new window for myself,” said Lt Col (Dr) Rawat.
The officer then took study leave for two years and completed his PhD in Psychology. It has been 13 years since Lt Col (Dr) Rawat has been counselling the cadets at NDA. “The first, immediate problem they face after entering the NDA is severe homesickness. Many of them come from rural areas so my first duty was to make them realise that irrespective of their social background, their status in the academy is of a cadet,” said Lt Col (Dr) Rawat.
He added that he often counseled many cadets on a one-to-one basis during their training. “One of the cadets, for instance, could not jump from a height of 10 metres in a swimming pool. The academy was on the verge of asking him to leave when he came to me. I explained him that his irrational belief about dying was holding him back,” said Lt Col (Dr) Rawat.
Lt Col (Dr) Rawat asked the cadet to simply trust his instructor because being in the army is all about to trusting others. “Later, not only did he jump from a height of 10 metres, but also related it to me as an amazing experience which he would like to repeat. That moment was highly satisfying to me as a counsellor,” said Lt Col (Dr) Rawat.
Lt Col (Dr) Rawat does not regret the fact that he could not climb the ladder and serve at a higher rank in the army. “Army is a way of life. How you contribute is important than the rank you hold,” Lt Col (Dr) Rawat.