Finding meaning in national service

With national service (NS) an inescapable part of life if you are a male Singaporean, it would serve you well to find meaning in it, instead of counting down to the last day of service.

Motivate yourself and create meaning for yourself.

Ask "why am I here and how does it contribute to my life?", said Dr Ang Yong Guan, a psychiatrist in private practice who once headed the Singapore Armed Forces' (SAF) Psychological Care Centre.

Use the two years to learn new skills and make new friends from different walks of life, he suggested.

"The camaraderie and friendships forged during NS can stay a long time," said Dr Ang.

Dr Tor Phern Chern, a consultant at the department of general psychiatry, Institute of Mental Health, advised recruits to enter NS with a positive mindset of serving and protecting the nation so as to get the most out of it.

Find out how NS is vital to the defence of everything one holds dear in Singapore, as what happened during World War II is a sobering reminder of the perils of a weak defence force, he said.

"Being able to accept the role of serving the nation allows one to be able to see the best NS opportunities in a positive light," he said.

Such a "can do" attitude will open the way for role advancement and allow one to engage and inspire fellow NSmen, he said.

Joyce Teo

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 01, 2016, with the headline 'Finding meaning in national service'. Print Edition | Subscribe