SINGAPORE - To mark the 55th anniversary of national service this year, past and present operationally ready national servicemen (NSmen) from the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and the Home Team will receive $100 worth of digital credits and a free one-year Safra or HomeTeamNS membership.
These will form an NS55 Recognition Package as a way of thanking NSmen for their vital role in defending Singapore and ensuring that Singaporeans continue their way of life, said Senior Minister of State for Defence Zaqy Mohamad on Saturday (March 26).
Close to a million eligible NSmen will receive a notification letter from mid-June with details on how to claim the package.
Speaking on the sidelines of a visit to a mobilisation exercise at Maju Camp, Mr Zaqy also announced the start of a year-long NS55 campaign - and highlighted the relevance of NS against the backdrop of Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
"It is quite clear to us that as a country, the sole responsibility of defence and making sure we protect our sovereignty - that's our own," he said.
"Seeing the Ukrainians and the resistance they've put up, that is a lesson for Singaporeans too."
Mr Zaqy added: "This mindset is something that cannot be built overnight. We've spent 55 years in the making (of NS) and I hope when the time comes, the need arises, Singaporeans are ready to defend the country."
At a media briefing, Mr Ho Chin Ning, the NS55 executive committee co-chairman and the Ministry of Defence's manpower director, reiterated that the Recognition Package was a small token of appreciation and that no amount could "ever make up for the contributions and sacrifices of our national servicemen".
Eligibility for the Recognition Package will be based on one's NS status as at May this year.
Full-time national servicemen (NSFs) who enlist by Dec 31 will also qualify for the benefits, after their enlistment.
The $100 credits will be disbursed from July - through the LifeSG mobile application, which gives users access to government services - and will be valid for one year upon issuance.
They can be spent at physical and online merchants that accept digital payments through the PayNow or Nets QR formats.
These range from hawker stalls and e-commerce platforms to payments to government agencies and educational institutions.
NSmen who have served or are currently serving their operationally ready NS will also receive a complimentary one-year Safra or HomeTeamNS principal membership, which they must sign up for by Dec 31 this year.
Safra benefits include access to six clubs across Jurong, Mount Faber, Punggol, Tampines, Toa Payoh and Yishun, with a seventh in Choa Chu Kang by early 2023.
For HomeTeamNS, there are five clubs across Balestier, Bukit Batok, Chinatown, Khatib, and Tampines, with a sixth in Bedok by the end of the year.
Both memberships come with privileges and discounts at partner merchants, among other perks.
NS55 will be a year-long celebration paying tribute to the more than one million Singaporeans and permanent residents who have served NS since 1967, when the first batch of NSFs enlisted in two newly formed battalions.
Commemorative events include a May showcase in conjunction with the Army Open House at the F1 Pit Building and a June exhibition in Punggol and Bishan.
There will also be an interactive walking trail called Cepat Jalan - a drill command in Malay which means quick march - comprising islandwide augmented or virtual reality "discovery points" of significance to NS, including at Fort Canning and Esplanade.
The NS55 theme will also be incorporated into events such as SAF Day in July and National Day in August; and community activities such as an NS-themed family camp.
In December, the campaign will conclude with a combined Basic Military Training Graduation Parade and Mindef Reserve Parade held at The Float @ Marina Bay.
NSman Corporal First Class Han Zhiwei, 32, said the $100 credits in the Recognition Package would come in useful for his family's needs, including milk powder for his infant son.
NSman Harish Rai, a 2nd Sergeant and Company Sergeant Major with 795 Guards, said he appreciated the gesture to reward servicemen like himself for their efforts put in to protect and defend Singapore.
"I'm particularly interested in the NS55 showcase, to see the history and how national service has progressed over the years," the 24-year-old added.
"It will mean a lot to me and I will probably be able to see the contributions that I and my friends have made while serving the nation."