The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) will conduct military exercises in Seletar, Marsiling, Jalan Bahar, Neo Tiew, Lim Chu Kang, Jalan Kwok Min, Tuas, Upper Jurong, Hong Kah, Ama Keng, Bedok Jetty, Kranji, Lentor, Simpang, Sembawang, Mandai from 08:00am on Mon, 25 Aug 2014 to 08:00am on Mon, 1 Sep 2014.
The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) will conduct military exercises in Seletar, Marsiling, Jalan Bahar, Neo Tiew, Lim Chu Kang, Jalan Kwok Min, Tuas, Upper Jurong, Hong Kah, Ama Keng, Bedok Jetty, Kranji, Lentor, Simpang, Sembawang and Mandai from 08:00am on Mon, 18 Aug 2014 to 08:00am on Mon, 25 Aug 2014.
How do you make the message of Total Defence strike a chord with Singaporeans?
Tell the stories of ordinary Singaporeans - the likes of taxi drivers, national servicemen and nurses - who have contributed to nation-building.
This was the idea which Pamela and the Nexus team came up with. Earlier this year, they helped to put up Singapore's biggest Total Defence (TD) campaign to date, marking 30 years of TD. Even though she had to work on most weekends to run the series of events and media outreach, she had no complaints.
It's very fulfilling to see (such a large-scale) project unfold from scratch, said the 29-year-old.
She started her career with the Republic of Singapore Air Force as a human resource executive in 2008, before joining the Defence Ministry's Public Affairs Directorate as a media relations officer three years later. She then made the move to Nexus in 2013.
Even when she is away from work, Pamela puts her creativity to good use. She often organises cookout with her friends, like a recent shell-themed session which saw them cooking dishes such as crab cake and clam aglio olio.
Two friends pursue a shared love for pets after a successful career in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).
There is a season and a time for everything - so the saying goes. For Ms Doris Ong, last year was one of new beginnings - starting her pet-grooming business Pet Cove - and also endings: leaving the SAF and her marriage.
She started the business with Ms Alvina Lee with no experience in pet grooming, apart from taking care of family pets. The two women first met in 2010 while working at Headquarters Training and Doctrine (HQ TRADOC) in the SAF.
They hit it off right away. Having common topics - we were both paracounsellors - and discussing our cases helped us to cement the friendship. So when Ms Ong left the SAF in July last year, the two thought of turning their passion for pets into a business.
It was also a time of personal upheaval for Ms Ong who was going through a divorce. I went through a huge change, from being in uniform and married, to being a civilian and single. Ms Ong spent 22 years in the SAF, holding many appointments, and had risen to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
In a way, setting up the business was a cathartic release for Ms Ong. When asked what it was like to start a business from scratch, both women let out a collective groan.
We were working through the night, said Ms Ong.
It was decided that the business would include her 12-year-old daughter Mei Qi, who aspires to be a vet, from the get-go. The eventual plan is for Mei Qi to have her own veterinary clinic at Pet Cove to make the business a truly one-stop shop.
To better things
Said close friend and business partner Ms Lee: During the period of setting up Pet Cove, Doris made it a point to spend time with Mei Qi - she would wake up at 5am to take her daughter to school so that they could talk on the way. Both of us probably slept about three hours daily.
That is why Pet Cove is something special - integrating her (Doris') second career and family, she added. The business marks the time that she has moved on in life, together with Mei Qi.
The grand plan
Very early on, the duo had decided their business would not be a run-of-the-mill pet shop. So they spent three months attending a professional pet-grooming course to learn how to groom pets even for competitions.
They even attended courses for pet-sitting - which is peripheral to their core business of grooming - to learn how to take care of different kinds of pets. That took another three months, and included written examinations.
There was a lot to learn and prepare before they could open the shop, but as Ms Lee explained, they had a clear goal in mind: We wanted to provide professional services.
Getting the word out
Their next focus was on publicity. That meant creating a presence on social media and distributing flyers. When the duo did roadshows, Mei Qi helped out by manning the Pet Cove booth.
They had their fair share of ups and downs and learnt the hard way that starting a business was no easy task. Google was our best friend! laughed the two women. At night, Ms Lee would trawl the Web to see how people promoted their businesses.
Both women were acutely aware of the risks. We'd seen how a single bad comment could lead to near ruin for a pet-grooming business, said Ms Lee. Once a business gets a bad reputation and you don’t know how to contain it, that will impact the shop.
To spread out the risks, they looked into diversifying their business by carrying pet-grooming products. Currently, they are the official distributors for two brands. It was something that Ms Ong learnt in the military.
Business requires us to be nimble in our actions and thoughts. Long-term goals are important but there is a need to tweak and change our strategy from time to time.
So we had to make sure that our contingency plans were fast (and nimble) enough to be deployed. That's another thing I learnt in the SAF - adaptability.
Today, Pet Cove is doing well. The shop has been fully booked daily since December last year and they have hired more staff to deal with the increased demand for their grooming services and to man their retail operations.
Sure seems like another season is upon them - boom season.
In the months leading up to the National Day Parade (NDP), participants braved the scorching sun every weekend rehearsing to make the celebrations a resounding success. For others, support came in the form of sponsorships.
In appreciation of their efforts and sacrifices, Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen hosted a dinner for 327 participating organisations and sponsors on 25 Aug.
Said Dr Ng: This year's NDP succeeded because it connected with Singaporeans emotionally. Singaporeans re-lived our past watching the show, felt more alive today, and found renewed hope for tomorrow.
I want to thank each of you for the hard work and sacrifice and sponsorships… (Many have) told me that their personal reward is in knowing that they had a part in touching the hearts of many Singaporeans and giving Singapore a wonderful 49th birthday present.
Chairman of NDP 2014 Executive Committee Colonel (COL) Wong Yu Han could not agree more. Explaining that he felt very privileged to work with the passionate and dedicated participants, COL Wong said: (Even at) the first combined rehearsal, it all came together so well that people were already anticipating that it would be a great parade this year.
And indeed it was. We managed to reach out to and connect with a lot of people, young and old alike.
This year's National Day theme - Our People, Our Home - celebrated the can-do attitude and caring spirit that holds Singaporeans together, as well as the resilience and dedication of its pioneer generation.
The parade also marked several firsts: Thousands witnessed the first female Red Lion, 3rd Warrant Officer (3WO) Shirley Ng, in her debut NDP jump. Eight participants from MINDS (Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore), who were taking part in the parade for the first time, drummed up a resounding performance in the military tattoo and marched in the marching contingent.
Other NDP firsts included the largest non-military marching contingent that comprised over 2,000 participants, and the Junior Red Lions initiative, in which 18 Primary 4 and 5 students were invited to train with the Red Lions for a day, soar with them in iFly Singapore (an indoor skydiving simulator), and greet the crowds together with them at the parade.
With over 40,000 photos and videos of NDP posted on Instagram, it was clear that this year's celebrations had hit all the right notes for Singaporeans.
Happy that Singaporeans had appreciated their efforts, COL Wong noted that it had been a memorable NDP journey: Tonight's event is important to me as well to all of us who have worked on NDP. It's the end (of our NDP journey) where we sit together and enjoy being with each other before...(leaving) with just the memory of a very good parade.
Organise forums for Operationally Ready National Servicemen (NSmen) to share their journey with young Full-time National Servicemen (NSFs) and their parents.
This is one of the engagement ideas which ACCORD's new Family and Community Council (FC) will be looking at to strengthen family and community support for National Service (NS).
ACCORD refers to the Advisory Council on Community Relations in Defence, which serves as a channel for the public to share their feedback on defence matters. It has been expanded and restructured into three councils - the other two are the Employer and Business Council (EB) and the Educational Institutions Council (EI).
The restructuring came about after a year-long public consultation effort by the Committee to Strengthen NS which started last May.
This new restructured ACCORD is to really open up more platforms for engagement, and (build greater) awareness that Total Defence is the job and responsibility of everyone, said Ms Claire Chiang, Co-Chair of the FC.
The Senior Vice-President of Banyan Tree Holdings was speaking to the media after the restructured ACCORD held its first meeting at SAFRA Toa Payoh on 25 Aug. She was also one of 52 new ACCORD members appointed in a ceremony following the meeting.
Speaking from the perspective of a wife and mother, Ms Chiang plans to work with various women's groups to help girlfriends and wives better understand what their partners go through in NS.
She also wants to change the mindset of some parents who think of NS as a phase that their sons have to pass over and get over with.
To this end, she believes that NSmen who had gone through NS and went on to excel in life are the best advocates.
We need a strong narrative, we need good champions and I think the NSmen will be our important resource, to come back to tell the stories.
The FC will also focus on engaging new citizens and permanent residents, she added.
Tackling business issues
To help the business community to better support NSmen, the EB will tackle issues faced by small and medium enterprises (SMEs). For example, SMEs, with their smaller workforce, may face a manpower crunch when their NSmen are away for In-Camp Training (ICT).
It will also find ways to help the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) collaborate more closely with the business community, help NSFs to better transit into the workforce, and have companies recognise NSmen's ICT performances.
To gather feedback effectively, the EB is made up of business leaders representing the key trade associations and chambers, as well as SMEs and multinational companies (MNCs).
It's going to be a good representation of the business community, said Mr Tony Chew, Co-chair of EB.
We can contribute inputs and make recommendations that would be useful in improving NS issues, as well as help to garner and encourage greater support from (the) business (community) for NS, added the Executive Chairman of Asia Resource Corporation.
Engaging the youth
Working with educational institutes is another focus of ACCORD as the youth are the NSmen of tomorrow.
Ms Indranee Rajah, Co-Chair of EI and Senior Minister of State for Education, said the EI will enable leaders in the education sector to work more closely with MINDEF (Ministry of Defence) on the engagement of our students, parents and educators.
Ms Elim Chew, an EI member, added that there is a need to communicate the importance of NS to the youth.
This generation of young people need to see a vision; they need to see a purpose, said Ms Chew, the founder of 77th Street. She sits on more than 20 committees in the public service as well as youth and community groups.
Today, we need to work together and show them a bigger vision of why they need to do NS to protect Singapore and also their own future in Singapore, she explained.
ACCORD is chaired by Second Minister for Defence Chan Chun Sing and supported by Deputy Chairman Minister of State for Defence Dr Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman.
Seventeen existing members, along with the 52 new members, were appointed to ACCORD and its councils, while seven current members stepped down.
At the ceremony, Mr Chan thanked all past and present ACCORD members for their contributions.
I really appreciate your effort in coming on board, because joining ACCORD to explore some of these issues to strengthen the support for NS and defence is the best testimony that we can ever have, said Mr Chan.
Learning to do an intravenous insertion (IV) at the Combat Casualty Aid Course is, hands down, one of the most intense experiences of journalist Benita Teo's life…and also the most fun she's ever had.
I sat poised, with a needle in one gloved hand and a throbbing vein held down in the other. Everything was silent, except for the voice in my head screaming, WHAT HAVE I GOTTEN MYSELF INTO?
Learning to do an IV, that's what.
Setting the scene
The training shed resembled the set of a horror flick. Side-stepping the dismembered dummy forearms, I started to question myself. Was this tribute to my combat medic brother necessary, even though his IV scars do look pretty badass? I was effectively signing up to stick a potentially dangerous foreign object into another person.
Too late, I was already in too deep.
Practising on the dummy arm was easy enough; it even bled rose-coloured blood. And then it was show time.
I found you a nice vein, Military Expert (ME) 2-1 Brian Benitez, my instructor, said as he positively beamed. The owner of the vein smiled weakly.
After getting him to lie down on his back and placing the Hartmann solution bag (commonly known as the IV bag) behind his butt, I tied a tourniquet around his left arm in preparation. In an outfield situation, when there is no IV pole to hang the bag from, placing it underneath the casualty creates pressure to force the solution into the tube.
As I got ready to unwrap my venous catheter, it dawned on me that I'd forgotten something important…
This is a bit late, but I ought to ask your name first…
Oh, right. Junhe.
Now that Lieutenant (LTA) (NS) Soh Junhe and I were acquainted, I felt a little better about what I was about to do to him.
A dramatic point
After ME2-1 Benitez helped me to locate a suitable vein (again), I swabbed the area with an alcohol wipe and, finally, we were ready.
As I held the needle to his taut skin, the last thing I remembered was ME2-1 Benitez telling me: Ok, now, I need you to be… He paused, searching for the words.
Ballsy? I offered.
Yes. He looked squarely into my eyes and added: No hesitation, because the needle must go in.
Even though I was terrified, I looked at LTA (NS) Soh, who was staring stoically into the sky, and I thought to myself, If he is being brave for me, then I have to be brave for him too. I took a breath and held it.
And suddenly, the needle was in.
What followed was a blur. I vaguely recalled ME2-1 Benitez guiding my hand to move the needle in deeper. Finally, blood filled the catheter hub, signalling that the catheter was in place. ME2-1 Benitez raised his hands to give me a high-ten, but all I wanted was to pass out into his outstretched arms. I must have been white as a sheet.
Celebrations over, now came the crucial part. Very carefully, I pulled the needle out while holding on to the catheter to keep it in, and attached the Hartmann solution tube. When the fluid began flowing into the catheter, I taped it down, bandaged LTA (NS) Soh's forearm arm to secure it, and we were in business.
A second climax
Now, return the favour. Lie down! ME2-1 Benitez announced with a big grin. Obediently, I took my position.
Lying there, I finally understood how LTA (NS) Soh felt: I was blind to the proceedings and at the mercy of the needle. Furthermore, I knew that my barely-visible veins would be a problem.
I was not wrong. After feeling the initial needle prick, I heard ME2-1 Benitez affirming LTA (NS) Soh. However, as LTA (NS) Soh attempted to move the needle in, the usually amiable ME2-1 Benitez suddenly raised his voice: Look, it's swelling now! Do you know what'll happen when you remove the needle?!
Horrified, I sat up. A small bump had formed. I scrambled to speak: Oh my god, will the blood spurt out onto his face?!
No, ME2-1 Benitez deadpanned anticlimactically. Nothing will come out, because the blood has pooled underneath the skin. He was obviously having fun with us too.
Relieved, I laid back down. Turns out that LTA (NS) Soh had just made another hole in the vein, causing a hematoma (an upsized orh cheh or bruise). He plastered me up and tried again on someone else. He did better the second time around.
Cradling my little bruise, I felt quite proud of myself and the scar that I would soon have. LTA (NS) Soh must have been too, because he revealed that I was the first person to successfully IV him. His buddy back in Basic Military Training tried unsuccessfully on both his arms before giving up.
So, I was actually the best he'd ever had.
This tough-as-nails commando counsels people on the brink of despair to cope with their problems. And he does this of his own volition, charging nothing for his time and effort.
Sometimes even the best of us can do with some help; even the best of us stumble. Sometimes the person who extends that lifeline is an unlikely one.
Meet 1st Warrant Officer (1WO) Alex Quah, the commando who also happens to be a Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) paracounsellor. He has helped many people cope with their problems, which range from excessive gambling to relationship issues.
Most people in the SAF who do counselling work do not pursue training beyond the week-long course conducted by the SAF Counselling Centre (SCC). Not 1WO Quah, the Plans Warrant Officer in Headquarters Commando.
He discovered his knack for counselling during the SCC course which he attended in 2007. He was encouraged to go for this course when he returned from an overseas posting. When I was overseas, I realised that there was a limit to how much I could help my soldiers. I could do better if I had more training.
During his three-year overseas appointment as Sergeant-Major, he was the de facto disciplinarian but soldiers often confided in him. My then-Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Adam, told me that I had a gift - I genuinely care for people, and that's why soldiers trusted me.
He felt that he was ready for more, so in 2008, he enrolled in a part-time programme conducted by Swinburne University, Australia for a master's degree in counselling.
The two years which followed were tough for 1WO Quah, who had to juggle duties in camp, family commitments and studies. He graduated in 2010 among the top 15 percent of his cohort.
His efforts were also commended by then-Chief Commando Officer Colonel Lam Shiu Tong, now Brigadier-General (Retired). Back then, very few Warrant Officers and Specialists would pursue Master's studies on their own.
Keeping the faith
Today, 1WO Quah volunteers his time across a few organisations and in his community. He also helps people to quit smoking by giving talks organised by the Health Promotion Board.
His focus is on helping people to recover from addiction-related issues. I don't want to see anyone being condemned just because of past mistakes, said 1WO Quah.
He recalls one case: a 20-year-old who relapsed a few times and returned to gambling.
But 1WO Quah never gave up on the young man. I believe that human beings are born wanting to do good… Sometimes we go astray and just need someone to lead us back, to help us recover.
He says that in severe cases, counselling is not enough, which is where organisations like One Hope Centre for problem gambling come in.
Everyone who attends the sessions help each other by discussing issues openly. For example, how to deal with gambling debts and ways to stay away from gambling, said 1WO Quah.
At the Singapore Anti-Narcotics Agency, he serves as a counsellor and mentor to former convicts who are battling drug addictions. In his community, he serves as a grassroots leader and helps to organise events for his estate in Jurong.
Taking it seriously
Since actively volunteering seven years ago, 1WO Quah has chalked up more than 800 hours of counselling work. He even pays a supervisor to review his case logs.
No one believes that till today, I am paying for supervision! laughed 1WO Quah. I'm still seeing my supervisor, even after graduating with my Masters in 2010. But it's necessary because it helps me to maintain and improve my counselling skills.
It can also be emotionally draining to constantly listen to the problems others face. That's one more reason why it's important to see a supervisor - it's like therapy for a counsellor!
He is a registered counsellor with the Singapore Association for Counselling, a professional body that establishes standards in training and practice. To join the association, a counsellor must have completed at least 600 hours of certified counselling work.
Weekends for 1WO Quah usually means devoting time to his voluntary work. But priority is reserved for his family, if they need him to be around.
I also make it a point for my family to eat together daily before any individual activities, said 1WO Quah, who is married and has a daughter.
At 51 years old, he is due to retire from the SAF in a few years.
People have asked me if I want to leave the Army because of the skills I have as a counsellor - I always say 'I don't think so' because I need to pay back whatever the Army has given me till today.
I don't think so much. I just feel that we need to care for each other, as human beings.