When people ask Operationally-Ready National Serviceman (NSman) Lieutenant-Colonel (LTC) Danny Lien why he's so passionate about National Service (NS), he always has a ready reply.
"It's something that I enjoy doing, and I think I can contribute to NS, so why should't I do it? There shouldn't be a price to it," said the Chief of Staff, Headquarters 4th Singapore Armoured Brigade.
But if there was one way he felt NSmen could be recognised for defending the country, LTC (NS) Lien, who is one of this year's "NSmen of the Year", said it would be through benefits that the family could enjoy together.
He got what he wished for.
To commemorate 45 years of National Service (NS45) and to thank National Servicemen for their service to the nation, the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) and the Ministry of Home Affairs will provide about $100 million worth of SAFRA and HomeTeamNS benefits to 900,000 NSmen.
This one-off initiative will benefit those who have served NS, starting from the first batch of NSmen, and those who are currently serving their NS term.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced this at the NS45 Commemoration Dinner, held on 22 Oct at the Marina Bay Floating Platform, where he paid tribute to National Servicemen's never-say-die spirit and their resolve to protect Singapore.
"...We all owe a huge debt to our NSmen. You have served faithfully, despite the demands of your careers and families," Mr Lee said in his address to the 1,400 guests, who included NSmen, Full-time National Servicemen (NSFs) and employers.
"It's a small hongbao... These gestures will never fully compensate for your personal sacrifices, but I hope they help to express our appreciation for all that you've done," he said.
Depending on their NS status as at today, every National Serviceman will receive $50 to $100 worth of SAFRA or HomeTeamNS vouchers, which can be redeemed for lifestyle items and services from the five SAFRA and six HomeTeamNS clubhouses.
National Servicemen who are currently serving their Operationally Ready National Service (ORNS) term or who have completed their full ORNS training cycle will also be offered a one-year free SAFRA or HomeTeamNS membership.
A two-year SAFRA membership for NSmen costs $81, and for those who have completed their ORNS training cycle, a two-year SAFRA membership costs $121. A two-year HomeTeamNS membership costs $50.
National Servicemen will receive a letter of notification by post, informing them of their eligibility for these benefits between January and April next year.
With this initiative, Captain (CPT) (NS) Indrashah bin Muhammad Isa, Officer Commanding of the 694th Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment (694 SIR) plans to spend more time with his family at the SAFRA clubhouses.
"Doing NS is part of my duty as an NSman, so I don't really expect anything in return.
"But I'm glad they gave something to us as recognition," said the 35-year-old, who works in the Research and Development department of the National Library Board.
During the dinner, Mr Lee launched "NS is...", a commemorative book that features stories and photos from past generations of National Servicemen.
He also presented "NSman of the Year" awards to 15 award recipients and "NSF of the Year" awards to eight of the 66 award recipients.
One of the 66 "NSFs of the Year" was Lieutenant (LTA) (NS) Premnath s/o Nadaison. He was an instructor at the Institute of Maritime Operations and Systems before his operationally-ready date in June this year.
LTA Premnath said it was the support of his family and friends that kept him going when he went through a tough time during an overseas training exercise.
The heavy rain had caused his feet to develop a fungal infection, and by the last few days of the course, he was walking with a limp because of the discomfort.
"I imagined how disappointed they would be if I went back as a drop-out from the course... (so) I just took a stick and walked," said the 22-year-old undergraduate, recalling how he motivated himself to complete the training.
LTA Premnath's proud father, Mr Nadaison Latchmanan, was at the dinner, and went up on stage with his son to receive his award from the Prime Minister.
"He used to be very playful. After going through NS, he has changed. Now, when he talks to me, he talks as a man and he can make good decisions," said Mr Nadaison, a senior engineering officer at a local telco company.
The NS45 Commemoration Dinner was a culmination of events organised by MINDEF and the Singapore Armed Forces to commemorate NS45 this year. Other key events included the NS45 Showcase @ Our Heartlands.
Guests at the dinner included members from the Government Parliamentary Committee for Defence and Foreign Affairs, and the Advisory Council on Community Relations in Defence.
National Servicemen will be eligible for these benefits, based on their NS status as at 22 Oct 2012.
|NS Status as at 22 Oct 2012||Benefits|
|Value of SAFRA/HomeTeamNS vouchers||Eligible for one-year free SAFRA/HomeTeamNS membership*?|
|Past statutory age and have not completed ORNS training cycle||$80||-|
|Currently serving ORNS||$80||Yes|
|Completed ORNS training cycle||$100||Yes|
* The tenure of the free membership will be from 1 Apr 2013 (or the date of application, whichever is later) to 31 Mar 2014.
- Download "Ns is..." e-Book (40.7MB)