Forum: National service has evolved to better suit servicemen's needs

With Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Day having been marked this week, we should ponder the growth and changes that have taken place in national service, and the impact NS has had on Singaporean men's lives.

NS has evolved to better suit the people's needs. It has also improved in terms of benefits and incentives for full-time national servicemen (NSFs) and operationally ready national servicemen (NSmen).

The Committee to Strengthen National Service made several recommendations in 2014, including allowing young men entering NS to indicate which vocations they want to serve in (NS pre-enlistees will get to indicate vocation choice, July 1, 2016). This is aimed at making the NS experience a more meaningful one.

The committee also aimed to make the experience a safer one for all Singaporean men. Other than the setting up of the Inspector-General's Office last year, more safety precautions have been put in place for the benefit of NSFs and NSmen.

In May, the Officer Cadet School said that officer cadets are now each given a Safety Stoppage Card. During an exercise, if safety precautions have been breached, the cadets have the right to flash their cards to stop the exercise immediately.

Also, amid the Covid-19 pandemic, large-scale activities such as mobilisation and in-camp training have been put on hold.

Since March 1 last year, NSmen have no longer needed to notify the authorities for overseas travel of less than six months, up from the previous 14 days.

All these efforts are aimed at easing any inconvenience that NS activities may bring to servicemen.

The announcement of NS Square last year, as well as more awards being given during in-camp training, further shows the efforts to strengthen NS.

Kenny Liu Wee Jueh

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