SINGAPORE - More than one million men who have performed their national service (NS) in the last 50 years will each receive $100 in vouchers but the sacrifices made in serving the nation are priceless, says the Ministry of Defence.
On Tuesday (Feb 7), Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen launched an NS50 recognition package to mark 50 years of national service, in which every national serviceman - who has served NS or is serving now - will receive $100 worth of vouchers that can be used at retail and F&B outlets.
Mindef's director of manpower Lee Chung Wei said the vouchers are a token of recognition and can never repay the sacrifices made in serving the nation.
"NS is priceless - you can't put a dollar value to it... If you focus on a dollar value, you are actually cheapening NS," Mr Lee told reporters last Thursday (Feb 2) during a media briefing, ahead of Dr Ng's announcement.
"What we want to achieve this year is for the community to show their appreciation, through their own events," he added.
To this end, Aug 1 to 10 has been designated NS50 week, during which there will be various activities, such as an NS50-themed picnic in partnership with Families For Life, a non-profit organisation which promotes resilient families.
Singapore Discovery Centre will run bus tours to sites of NS significance, such as Pasir Laba Camp.
Organisations and businesses have also planned pledge ceremonies to publicly declare their support for NS. Retailers which offer national servicemen discounts and promotions as part of Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Day on July 1 will also extend them to the NS50 week.
Colonel Clifford Keong, Mindef's head of the National Service Affairs Department, said he was heartened that many initiatives planned are ground-up. Col Keong said about 250 retailers participated in SAF Day last year and he is confident that more will come onboard.
An NS50 portal (NS50.sg) will provide more details. It will also list the participating merchants where the $100 vouchers can be used.
National servicemen who are eligible for the vouchers must have completed NS or are serving as of Jan 1 this year. Those who enlist in the 2017 enlistment cohort will also be eligible for the NS50 recognition package.
Also, those who are also serving or have finished their Operationally Ready National Service (ORNS) - formerly called reservist duties - will get an additional one year of Safra/HomeTeamNS membership.
Mr Lee said: "We should not take it lightly that we have achieved 50 years of NS. It's no easy feat and something to be proud of.
"And it's not just Mindef, but all NSmen, their families, their employers... it has required sacrifice and support by all these stakeholders," he added.