SINGAPORE - Recognising the role that national service plays in the security of Singapore, international school principal Melissa Maria initiated talks and fitness training for her students who were pre-enlistees.
She started these efforts the year she joined the Ministry of Defence's Advisory Council on Community Relations in Defence (Accord) in 2018.
Her school, Global Indian International School, has two campuses in Singapore offering up to pre-tertiary level education.
Alumni who have completed full-time national service give talks at the school to address concerns of both pre-enlistees and their parents.
Ms Maria, 53, believes that national servicemen should be appreciated for the sacrifices they make to ensure the safety of those living in Singapore.
"It is imperative that this inculcation of appreciation starts at an early age and schools play a major role in ensuring this," Ms Maria, who is Singaporean, said in an interview.
She is one of the 278 volunteers serving on 37 Mindef boards and committees who will receive letters of appreciation from Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen this week, said Mindef on Monday (Sept 27).
Such volunteers helps the ministry stay updated on industry-best practices and organisational processes, as well as promote support for defence and national service, said Mindef in a statement.
To thank the volunteers, Mindef has held a dinner gathering for them every year since 1998, but the event had to be set aside with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic last year.
The volunteers are from both private and public sectors, and among other things, have helped to build Safra clubs, counsel national servicemen and visit offenders at the detention barracks.
They also serve on medical, safety and legal panels.
Volunteer Sallim Abdul Kadir - a member on the Board of Visitors to the SAF Detention Barracks since 2014 - visits detainees to talk to them.
If issues are raised, he will speak to the commanders.
"SAF invites the public to come in and make recommendations, to ensure things are being done correctly. That is extremely good," said the 66-year-old.
Colonel (NS) Tan Yeow Tiong, 49, was appointed as chairman of the Safra Yishun Country Club Executive Committee in July.
He believes that the volunteer work he does helps bring those who serve national service together.
"It is about engaging them in a different setting than when we are in the camp… We are doing this out of personal conviction and belief that NSmen can be brought together through different activities.
"This strengthens the fabric of the NS community in a different way," said the director of a start-up.