Military veterans discuss how to get the young to understand why they serve NS

Soldiers marching down the steps of the Marina Bay Floating Platform during the National Day Parade (NDP) at Marina Bay Floating Platform on Aug 9, 2011. The Ministry of Defence will be looking at a "more systematic" way to share the experiences
Soldiers marching down the steps of the Marina Bay Floating Platform during the National Day Parade (NDP) at Marina Bay Floating Platform on Aug 9, 2011. The Ministry of Defence will be looking at a "more systematic" way to share the experiences of veterans with the younger generation, said Second Minister for Defence Chan Chun Sing on Thursday, April 3, 2014. -- ST FILE PHOTO: MUGILAN RAJASEGERAN

The Ministry of Defence will be looking at a "more systematic" way to share the experiences of veterans with the younger generation, said Second Minister for Defence Chan Chun Sing on Thursday evening.

This will include talks at schools and those for full-time national servicemen (NSF), for instance. Mindef is also looking at expanding the existing Veteran's League and setting up a collective memory project to document the experiences of veterans.

These efforts will help the younger generation understand why they serve National Service, which is key to instilling "a sense of identity and purpose" in this group, Mr Chan said at a focus group discussion held by the Committee to Strengthen National Service at Safra Toa Payoh.

"We can do everything well, but if we cannot settle this issue of why we are wearing the uniform...all the other things are meaningless," he said at the event attended by 46 veterans. Most were part of the first few batches to go through National Service (NS).

Attendees, who were in their 60s to even 90s, discussed how to better transmit values to the young. They also threw up ideas on how veterans such as themselves could help further this goal.

These ideas ranged from having a pool of professionally-trained veterans to talk about the importance of national defence to getting parents to share their own military training experiences, so as to encourage their children.

One group led by former SCDF commissioner Chng Teow Hua, 68, suggested inculcating a positive mindset towards military service from young.

"You must have positive thinking," Mr Chng said. "If you start NS with negative thoughts, it is very hard to convince them that this is good for you."

This is the 37th session since the focus group discussions started last May. Close to 40,000 people, including parents and NSFs, have been consulted so far.

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