Parliament: Only one out of 6,000 SAF personnel deployed overseas in last 20 years had post-traumatic stress disorder

A file photo of a Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) medic practicing a mass casualty drill with medics from Australia and New Zealand.
A file photo of a Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) medic practicing a mass casualty drill with medics from Australia and New Zealand. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Out of more than 6,000 Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) personnel who have been deployed for overseas operations over the last two decades, only one was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after the stint, said Senior Minister of State for Defence Maliki Osman on Monday (March 19).

He was responding in Parliament to Workers' Party Non-Constituency MP Dennis Tan, who had asked how many SAF personnel have suffered from PTSD or other psychiatric ailment during or after overseas operations, and what support is available for them.

Dr Maliki said the incidence of all psychological disorders among SAF personnel on overseas deployment is not higher than that among servicemen in general or the general population.

The low rate, he said, can be attributed to the selection, pre-deployment training and mental health support system in place for servicemen.

"This includes physical preparation, psychological screening, briefs on threat assessments, job descriptions and security procedures as well as avenues available to contact their family members or seek help for personal matters while overseas," he said.

"The IT connections despite being in remote areas such as Iraq and Afghanistan are good so SAF personnel are able to speak to their family members frequently."

When they return, all personnel go through an assessment of their psychological well-being for early intervention by counsellors, psychologists and psychiatrists if necessary, said Dr Maliki.

He noted that compensation for psychiatric or psychological disorders follows that of the overall framework for injuries and disabilities arising from service.

The consultations and treatment of affected personnel are fully subsidised at government restructured hospitals, clinics and community hospitals, for as long as required, even after the personnel's term of service, he said.

Even servicemen whose disorders were due to service but were detected only after they left the SAF are eligible to the same terms of treatment, he added.