Joining forces

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01Feb2018_00420
01 Feb 2018 | PEOPLE
Melayu 华文

Joining forces

// STORY Benita Teo
// PHOTOS Tan Yong Quan & Courtesy of SV(T) Tan Ravis

English Melayu

They say NS brings people together -- within the home among family members, and beyond with friends and colleagues.

As with the typical family in Singapore, the Ravis talk about field camps and the Singapore Assault Rifle (SAR) 21 over dinner, especially when a family member has just returned from training.

However, what sets them apart is that national serviceman and only son Corporal (CPL) (NS) Aldrouz Tan Ravis is the one showing Mum, SAF Volunteer Corps (SAFVC) Volunteer (Trainee) [SV(T)] Cherry Tan Ravis, the ropes.

The SAFVC allows Singaporeans and Permanent Residents without NS commitments to contribute to national defence.

Since its launch in October 2014, this uniformed volunteer scheme has trained more than 500 SVs who serve in the Army, Navy and Air Force.

The mother-and-son pair from the Philippines, who have lived in Singapore for almost a decade, are spurring each other on to play their part in keeping Singapore safe.

SV(T) Cherry completed her Basic Training in 2017 and will continue with Qualification Training as an Auxiliary Security Trooper this year.

Cherry, did Aldrouz's NS experience influence your decision to join the SAFVC?

C: I've done volunteer work before, but it's usually over once you finish the service. For me, it's about commitment and dedication, doing something serious and important... I wanted to be able to serve the country.

Part of it was also Aldrouz's enlistment. I was inspired by his experience and how he turned out he's become more independent and responsible, and is also more aware about the security environment.

Aldrouz, what was your reaction when Mum said she was joining the SAFVC?

A: I was shocked! She had never talked about the Army before!

C: Aldrouz laughed when he heard! He joked and said, "Are you sure? Can you make it?" But he knows me.

A: Training in the SAF has always been progressive, so I wasn't too worried about her coping. I felt like she could do it. I was just concerned if she could do the 2.4km run and push-ups and sit-ups.

Did you give her any tips before she enlisted?

C: He shared some of his training experiences so that I could be better prepared. But he didn't tell me any details. Maybe he wanted me to find out for myself.

A: It was to give her a surprise when she enlisted (grins cheekily).

C: He didn't even tell me how to use the SAR 21! I thought that since I have a son to ask, it would put me at an advantage over my batchmates. But no, I didn't get anything from him! (laughs)

A: But I did tell her about things like how to pack the field pack, and later, tips on section fire and movement with the SAR 21.

C: I didn't understand what he was talking about until I went through it myself. But it was an amazing experience you're shedding sweat, blood and tears!

Now that you're both part of the SAF, do you share your experiences with each other?

C: Sometimes we will show off to each other what we did, like who can shoot better and whose training is tougher (laughs).

We can relate to each other better since we understand what the other is talking about.

A: My dad has learnt quite a lot about NS from what I told him. But sometimes he does feel left out.

C: But he's excited to hear our stories because our experiences are different.

Aldrouz, you attended your mum's Formation Patch Presentation Parade in uniform and put the SAFVC formation patch on for her. What was that like?

A: It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so I was proud to be there in my uniform. There were quite a few (guests) in uniform, like brothers and boyfriends (of other female SVs).

I felt very proud of her for completing the course, as it was quite tough. I don't usually see mums in the Army, so it's different to see her do it.

C: I'm very proud to show my batchmates that my son is from Guards, and I know he's proud to wear his uniform.

Not many in NS become Guardsmen; it's a very select group. When he completed his Guards Vocational Training (a qualification course to become a Guardsman), my husband and I were there to put the Guards tab on for him.

So when he presented the patch to me, I wasn't so much proud that I had completed the training; I was more proud that I had my son there supporting me. (And that) we are now wearing the same uniform.

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